The art of Kenneth Anger possesses a reverberating influence, an all-encompassing amalgamation of arthouse visuals and occult aesthetic which continues to permeate the consciousness of Anger's fellow filmmakers to this very day.
Previously released in two separate DVD volumes, Fantoma's Complete Magick Lantern Cycle of Kenneth Anger is a dense, challenging collection of short films, one which boasts some seriously worthwhile artistic revenue for those willing to open themselves up to Anger's unique style and vision.
Included on this double disc release is a laundry list of Anger's short films, dating all the way back to the writer/director/producer's controversial 1947 film Fireworks. It was on this auspicious picture where some of the themes for which Anger is best known would first make their appearance, particularly the film's blatant and unapologetic take on the homosexual male.
Anger's imagery and cinematography in this regard would bait the critics even more on such later efforts as Kustom Kar Kommandos in 1965 and its even more infamous predecessor, 1964's epic Scorpio Rising. Anger's penchant for long, lingering shots of semi-nude male torsos and crotch areas are undercut with classic rock 'n roll from the 1950s.
This combination of music and video proved particularly influential to a young filmmaker by the name of Martin Scorsese, whose own penchant for classic rock has been well documented in his films Goodfellas, The Departed and Mean Streets. Scorsese returns the favor here, documenting his admiration for Anger alongside contemporaries Gus Van Zant and Guy Maddin.
Anger's appreciation of the occult is another aspect which sets his work apart from so many other short filmmakers, evidenced here by what many fans and followers consider to be his finest and most cohesive work, 1981's Lucifer Rising. As a Thelemite, Anger's metaphysical interests in the work of noted magickal figurehead Aleister Crowley and his Ordo Templi Orientis is intrinsically fused within Lucifer Rising and its intoxicating imagery of Egyptian mythology and head-trip psychedelia.
This fixation was also set up in 1969 with Anger's Invocation of My Demon Brother, most notable for its inconceivably obnoxious Moog "soundtrack" courtesy of Mick Jagger, not to mention a fun appearance from Anton Lavey, founder of the Church of Satan. Comparatively, the excellent and moody score to Lucifer Rising was composed by noted Manson associate and murderer Bobby Beausoleil-after an unfinished attempt by Led Zeppelin guitarist and fellow Crowley disciple Jimmy Page-who managed to wrangle up a group of inmates to assist him in composing a collection of loose, yet purposeful passages which combine hard edged, psychedelic rock with an addictive, hypnotic groove.
Taken in as a whole, the films which comprise this Complete Magick Lantern Cycle potentially possess "something for everyone," confidently striding an artistic line between arthouse and esoterica with a unique perspective which can only be described as..."Anger."
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