History of Our World

Kustom Kar Kommandos, Invocation Of My Demon Brother & Lucifer Rising – Kenneth Anger

Posted in Film by B on October 14, 2009

Kenneth Anger, Kustom Kar Kommandos, 1965

Kustom Kar Kommandos
1965
3 Minutes
16mm Colour
Music by the Parris Sisters, “Dream Lover.”

Following Scorpio Rising Anger was the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant to make Kustom Kar Kommandos, which he originally conceived as a feature-length, starring the customized car as a fetish object and tribal totem to another American boy cult. But the initial concept was soon abandoned after attempts to raise funds for its completion were unsuccessful. The footage shot in the actual garages of the kustomizers in California was edited to the single three minute pop song by the Parris Sisters, initiating the music clip as it subsequently evolved: a short film and microcosm compressed into the space of one song. KKK is a concept condensed to its essence. The slow sinuous camera pans mirror the breathless “Dream Lover” lyrics, beginning and ending with the contrapuntal roar of engines. Rather than the frenetic dynamic montage in Scorpio Rising, KKK features long takes and pans (creating the effect of sensuality and serenity) in a hermetic zone, where the kustom kar and its driver, Sandy Trent, re-enact an initiation rite: as if sacred experience. In 1958 when the film called Hot Rod Gang a.k.a Fury Unleashed, was released apparently it was unthinkable to say “hot rod” in public for fear of arousing disorder (it couldn’t be released under this title), and it was considered dangerous rabble-rousing stuff at the time. Anger’s film explored the forbidden world of these young men and their fetishized machines.

Kennth Anger, Invocation Of My Demon Brother, 1969

Invocation Of My Demon Brother
1969
11 Minutes
16mm, Colour
Music by Mick Jagger on the Moog Synthesizer.

Probably more than all of Kenneth Anger’s films, Invocation Of My Demon Brother comes closest to the cinematic state of of hypnosis the filmmaker sought. It is a short, intense, ritualistic film with a rough, almost naive synthesizer track by Mick Jagger. The “shadow prints” and the dialectical relationship between structure and chaos are amplified with the hypnotic waves of the mono-tonal synthesized soundtrack. Invocation‘s abstract non-narrative imagery, rough edges and minimal visual flow was technically even more ambitious than the previous work with Inauguration with its fast motion, stills and multiple impositions. For the first time, Anger had an original soundtrack to accompany the film, composed by Mick Jagger on his new Moog synthesizer. It is quite possibly the most adventurous and the original solo project Jagger ever worked on, and the soundtrack was a gift.

Poster for Lucifer Rising, designed by Page Wood for the Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York, 1980
Kenneth Anger, Lucifer Rising, 1970 - 1981

Lucifer Rising
1970 – 1981
30 Minutes
16mm, colour
Music by Bobby Beausoleil (originally by Jimmy Page)

“After these appeared
A crew who under names of old renown,
Osiris, Isis, Orus and their train
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abused
Fanatic Egypt and her priests, to seek
Their wand’ring gods disguised in brutish forms
Rather than human.”

-John Milton, Paradise Lost.

The visual narrative of Lucifer Rising, 1970 – 1981, Angers most ambitious project to date, was originally inspired by Crowley’s poem Hymn to Lucifer (“…His body a blood-ruby radiant / With noble passion, sun soiled Lucifer…With Love and Knowledge drove out innocence / The key of Joy is disobedience”), which recalls John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, 1667. It was Milton’s version of Lucifer that Aleister Crowley and Anger took as a departure point in their respective representations of the beautiful and rebellious angel of light; Lucifer not the devil, but Venus, the morning star. The notion of visual narration is expressed in Paradise Lost when Milton has the angel Michael guide Adam to the top of the high hill to show him a vision (in narrative form) of things to come. In anticipation of the vision, Adam’s eyes had first to be cleansed in an elaborate ritual cleansing: “The Film” was first removed from Adam’s “eyes” the “visual nerve” was then purged by “three drops” from the “Well Of Life” and “the inmost seat of mental sight” was finally exposed so Adam could behold that vision of history insofar as Milton could envision it using both scriptural and mythological sources. Lucifer Rising alludes to the “fallen angel” of orthodox Christian mythology, who in Anger’s film is restored to his Gnostic status as “the Bringer Of Light”; an implicit part of Crowley’s own teachings.

Robert Haller has commented that Griffith’s Intolernace and Eisenstein’s Que Viva Mexico! are the two films which most closely resemble Anger’s leap into the unknown in Lucifer Rising. Anger discussed the dialectical relationship between the two films in a statement of intention, commenting on the work before filming was completed.

“The film Lucifer Rising is my answer to Scorpio Rising – which was a death mirror held up to American Culture. And for my own sake I had to make an answer to it even though I still see plenty of thanatic elements at work in America. It’s a film about the love generation, but seen in depth – like in the fourth dimension. And I call it a love vision, and it’s all about love – the violence as well as the tenderness… I began shooting with the spring equinox. I’m type casting in my film, and one thing I’ve found is that since my film is about demons – but demon lovers – I have to work fairly fast because they tend to come and go… A demon is just a convenient way of labeling a force… Like Scorpio Rising, Lucifer Rising is about several things. I’m an artist working in Light, and that makes my whole interest, really. Lucifer is the Light God, not the devil, that’s Christian slander. The devil is always other peoples Gods. Lucifer has appeared in other of my films; I haven’t labeled him as such but there’s usually a figure or moment in these films which is my “Lucifer Moment”… I’m showing actual ceremonies in the film; what is performed in-front of the camera won’t be a re-enactment and the purpose will be to make Lucifer rise… It’s the birthday party for the Aquarian Age… Everything I’ve been saying so far has been leading up to this. I’ve been exploring myself and now I’ve got to communicate it. Lucifer is the Rebel Angel behind what’s happening in the world today. His message is that the “Key of Joy is Disobedience.”

Kustom Kar Kommandos

Invocation Of My Demon Brother

Invocation Of My Demon Brother (with commentary by Kenneth Anger)

Lucifer Rising

Kenneth Anger – A Demonic Visionary, Alice L. Hutchison

___

Kenneth Anger

Aleister Crowley

First Light, Robert Haller

Black Dog Publishing

B

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