Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

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colinr0380
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#51 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:57 pm

Re-watching this set over the weekend, I enjoyed identifying some of the themes running through what initially seems to be the very diverse subjects of the films.

All of the films are about uniforms (the naval uniforms of Fireworks, the eighteenth century dress of the woman in Eaux d'artifice, the pierrot in Rabbit's Moon, the biker leathers of Scorpio Rising, the black magic robes of Invocation, the Egyptian gods of Lucifer Rising and most interestingly those totally self-created/self-willed icons of Puce Moment and Pleasure Dome) and the worship of the central character of a more powerful figure or unattainable object.

A film like Rabbit's Moon with the pierrot becoming infatuated by the moon and continually trying to capture it while getting involved and teased by a more worldly wise and somewhat dastardly Joker character (and a coquettish fairy!) is perhaps the purest version of this idea, while in the other films the idea often becomes more internalised in the characters wanting to change themselves into some kind of unattainable figure, and ultimately reaching for the goal of death itself (the beating in Fireworks, the final race in Scorpio, the ephemeral shots of nature in Eaux d'artifice or the lava pools in Lucifer Rising). I particularly like the way that the footage of Jesus from the silent King of Kings is used intercut with the biker gang meeting in the final section of Scorpio Rising, sometimes as if Jesus is the 'square' looking on while all the debauchery is occurring! And there is that amusing moment when the blind man kneels before Jesus and there is a cut to a crotch level point of view shot of an erection poking out of a biker's leathers, which is extremely cheeky! (But I assume that all this intercutting is to make the point that Jesus is just another guy dressed in a peculiar fetishised garb, leading a gang around in pursuit of his own untimely death, simply for doing what he loved!)

This pursuit of unattainable goals or moulding yourself into a certain persona always seems to involve drugs and ritualistic behaviours, dressing in a certain manner in order to summon a particular atmosphere.

Yet I think there is also an idea of play acting involved - that the characters in these films aren't quite as dangerous or 'evil' or 'devillish' (or 'butch'!) as they would like to be! There's the fascination with actions and iconography of 'real danger' or subversion (devil worship, UFOs, the swastika) as if the characters are trying to cloak themselves with tainted objects in the hope that some of the controversy will rub off on them.

Kustom Kar Kommandos is very interesting because it takes vehicle worship to the ultimate extreme - I like that the inside of the car we see is totally reflective so that the driver can really just admire and watch themselves manipulating the controls! The driver who we see get behind the wheel just seems to enjoy playing with all the knobs and dials instead of actually working the controls in any meaningful way, which seems to feed into that sense of playacting at a certain activity that is full of significance without really being deadly serious in intent or competent at performing the activity! I get the impression that if the 'mythologising' rock and roll soundtrack was stripped away from that particular scene that the chap behind the wheel would be making childish "Vroom! Vroom!" noises as he was playing with the gearstick! (Though the regular introduction of a character wielding a sharp knife in Invocation of My Demon Brother, Lucifer Rising, Scorpio Rising and so on suggests the danger of playacting escalating into something more violent)

But this leads to an important point about the music through all of the films playing an important role - it allows the characters to escape their confines (once they have dressed appropriately!) and soar off into their own imaginative universe.

There is a regular use of mirrors and reflective surfaces through the other films as well, something which suggests a kind of narcissistic quality to all the subjects of the films that undercuts all the transgressions. It also suggests a kind of duality of persona - the split between public and private; between work and leisure time; between human and God. Why can't 'real people' become embodiments of a mythological figure or a fantastical way of life?

Out of all of the films I like Eaux d'artifice and Lucifer Rising the best. I particularly like the sequence in Lucifer Rising of the blonde woman in the black cape climbing to the top of the rock formation during the day with cuts to a procession of torch wielding figures climing the same formation at night, and then back again - that whole section feels extremely dream-like and reminiscent of a Jean Rollin film (and the woman looks quite similar to the gorgeous Brigitte Lahaie who was so striking in many of Rollin's films)!

All of these films are fascinating to watch though and there is a lot to enjoy in noting the very fine line the films walk between the insipiring and the prosaic; the epic and the intimate; the mythological and the absurd, and how each side of the debate informs and enriches the other more deeply.

Adam
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#52 Post by Adam » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:42 pm

colinr0380 wrote:(... the woman looks quite similar to the gorgeous Brigitte Lahaie who was so striking in many of Rollin's films)
Isn't it Marianne Faithful? She's in the film, but it's been a while so I'm forgetting whether that is her role....

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colinr0380
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#53 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:12 pm

Adam wrote:Isn't it Marianne Faithful? She's in the film, but it's been a while so I'm forgetting whether that is her role....
I think you are right! And I really should have noted that since on a whim I decided to put on an old videotape of Faithfull's finest filmic hour, Girl On A Motorcycle for the first time in years tonight! Perhaps I had subconsciously made the connection!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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zedz
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#54 Post by zedz » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:12 pm

Several of the motifs Colin notes (such as leader / follower relationships, mirrors, and garments invested with specific power) are likely manifestations of Anger's interest in the occult. Indeed, some of the films have a straightforward documentary element in this respect.

Coincidentally, I rewatched, for the umpteenth time, Eaux d'artifice on the weekend (five year old goddaughter wanted something pretty to dance in front of!) and was seduced all over again. Consequently, I have to add to the list of motifs the 'orgasmic' shots Anger finds space for in so many of his films. Those slow motion fountains in Eaux are the most extravagant manifestation of this, but, as the title of the film confirms, they're also an 'answer' to the fireworks in Fireworks, and they anticipate the sparklers, lava and selected fluids of later films. (Don't think there's anything occult going on with these shots - what you see is what you get!)

Marianne Faithfull is indeed the hill climber in Lucifer Rising.

El Kokolores
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#55 Post by El Kokolores » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:16 pm

I hope someone can help me with a question here about LUCIFER RISING...

I'm doing a little research about the footage Anger used in this film. I am particularly interested in the shots of the volcano and the bubbling lava pool. I am pretty sure, I saw these shots elsewhere. Can somebody confirm that this volcano footage is somehow unprotected public domain footage, every TV station is using when they need to show volcanos erupting? Does anyone know where this footage is coming from originally?

If somebody can actually help me with this, I'd be more than happy to include her or him in the "thanks section" of my work...

Thanks in advance!

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tajmahal
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#56 Post by tajmahal » Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:30 pm

I don't know the answer, but as Lucifer Rising was made/released in 1973, you could check out the short documentaries:

BIRTH OF AN ISLAND (SURTSEY) 1963? You can find more footage on this page

FIRE ON HEIMAEY 1973? You can watch the entire film in four parts.

I hope this helps. They are both interesting little docs. Watch for the brave/foolhardy scientists on the boat not far from an island forming.

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MichaelB
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#57 Post by MichaelB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:04 am

Dual-format reissue on 7 November.

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knives
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#58 Post by knives » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:25 pm

Do any of Anger's films not on this set still survive and if so are any available?

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What A Disgrace
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#59 Post by What A Disgrace » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:30 am

Is the new dual-format release still region free? Its listed as Region B in many places.

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MichaelB
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#60 Post by MichaelB » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:11 am

I've just checked directly with the BFI: it's a straightforward repressing of the original separate discs.

In other words, still definitely region free.

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neilist
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#61 Post by neilist » Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:28 am

A Weekend of Anger: the Films of Kenneth Anger at ICA, London, 27 and 28 July. Both days are introduced by Anger himself, plus there's a Q&A and discussions with him on the second day.

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pzadvance
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Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#62 Post by pzadvance » Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:10 pm

The Magick Lantern Cycle featuring the lost cut of Lucifer Rising with music by Jimmy Page will be screened 4/17 in downtown Los Angeles at a pretty stunning old movie palace.

I'm a complete Anger neophyte but it sure sounds exciting to me.

FlickeringWindow
Joined: Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:27 pm

Re: Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle

#63 Post by FlickeringWindow » Wed Dec 19, 2018 2:43 pm

Looks like this is out of print. Third party sellers on Amazon UK and off BFI’s site entirely. Perhaps another label has the rights now? This was at least region free, but BFI’s packaging didn’t hold a candle to the gorgeous Fantoma one.

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