Kenneth Anger

Kenneth Anger, ‘Invocation of my demon brother’ (1969)

In 1967, the footage for Anger’s Lucifer Rising was allegedly stolen by Anger’s “Lucifer”, Bobby Beausoleil, who was later convicted for his participation in the Manson murders (Beausoleil denies stealing the footage to this day). Anger went into a deep depression and publicly renounced filmmaking via a full-page “In Memoriam” in The Village Voice. He later moved to London and met up with Mick Jagger and the Stones.   By this time, Anger had begun editing two other versions of what was to be Lucifer Rising, although by the final edit it had taken on a very different form, which led to the incarnation of Invocation, a mind-bending collage of sonic terror and subversion and fast paced ritual ambiance which found the union of the circle and the swastika, a swirling power source of solar energy. Mick Jagger contributed a suitably eerie soundtrack with a newly acquired synthesizer.

It is Anger’s most metaphysical film: here he eschews literal connections, makes the images jar against one another, and does not create a center of gravity though which the collage is to be interpreted, as the images of Christ could be interpreted through the actions of the motorcyclists in Scorpio or as the images of Crowley could be interpreted through the ritual of Inauguration. Thus deprived of a center of gravity,the very image has equal weight in the film,  and more than ever before in an Anger film, the burden of synthesis falls upon the viewer. The most demonic of Anger’s films, as well as the most fast  moving.


Kenneth Anger (born Kenneth Wilbur Anglemeyer February 3, 1927) is an American underground avant-garde film-maker and author. His short films, which he has been producing since 1937, have variously merged surrealism with homoerotica and the occult. Whilst he has produced almost forty short films in his lifetime, only six of these have received distribution, and have come to be referred to as the “Magick Lantern Cycle”. He has been described as “one of America’s first openly gay filmmakers, and certainly the first whose work addressed homosexuality in an undisguised, self-implicating manner”, and some of his homoerotic works, such as Fireworks (1947) and Scorpio Rising (1964), were produced prior to the legalisation of homosexuality in the United States.

‘Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome’ (1954-’56)

The title of the film comes from the poem “Kublai Khan” by the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge claimed that the poem came to him during an opium dream. The poem tells the story of the Mongol general and statesman who built a pleasure dome. The film, subtitled “Lord Shiva’s Dream” is a complex meditation of ideas that Anger absorbed from his interest in the occultist Aleister Crowley.

“A convocation of magicians assume the identity of gods in a Dionysian revel. Lord Shiva, the magician, awakes. The Scarlet Woman, whore of heaven, smokes a big, fat joint; Astarte of the moon brings the wing of snow; Pan bestows the grapes of Bacchus; Hecate offers the sacred mushroom, yage, wormwood brew… The orgy ensues – a magick masquerade at which Pan is the prize. Lady Kali blesses the rites of the children of light as Lord Shiva invokes the godhead with the formula Force and Fire.” – Kenneth Anger

‘The man we want to hang’ (2001)

Comprised of images of Aleister Crowley’s paintings that had been exhibited at a temporary exhibition in Bloomsbury, London.

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