Kenneth Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle

Reviewed by Hayley Morgan 10/3/2011

Fireworks (1947)
Written and Directed by Kenneth Anger

Cult film director Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks was truly a controversial film for its time. Released in 1947, the film depicts a teenager (played by Anger himself) dreaming of being tortured by sailors after trying to pick one of them up. The homoeroticism is blatant, from the fireworks used as a phallic metaphor to a burning Christmas tree; very bold considering the era when it was made, and that Anger was only seventeen at the time.

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)
Written and Directed by Kenneth Anger

Unlike Fireworks, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome was shot in vivid colours which unfortunately are one of the only interesting things about this short. Clearly an experimental film, it features historical figures and mythological characters faffing about and eating jewellery. There seems to be no plot and it all appears to be rather self indulgent. Random imagery appears now and again towards the end including a pentagram and other such Aleister Crowley related nonsense.

Scorpio Rising (1963)
Written by Ernest D.Glucksman and Kenneth Anger
Directed by Kenneth Anger

One of Anger’s more straightforward films (but still controversial), Scorpio Rising is about a gang of gay/Nazi bikers as they party and behave like delinquents, all to the backdrop of hits from the 60s. Featuring random archive footage of a film about Jesus Christ interwoven with scenes of the bikers, the film builds up to a climax in which the protagonist of the gang meets his fate.

Lucifer Rising (1970)
Written and Directed by Kenneth Anger

After taking 4 years to complete and another 10 years for distribution one wonders why Anger bothered with Lucifer Rising; another self indulgent short featuring some big names such as Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger. Clearly this Psychedelic occult film is for the LSD crowd. Much like Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome the film has no plot and once again random flashing occult images appear. The soundtrack was composed and performed by Bobby Beausoleil, a convicted murderer and part of the Manson family. Despite him being the sort of person you wouldn’t bring home to meet Mother he’s the only reason I kept awake during the film.

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