Thursday, October 12, 7:30pm
Hail Lucifer! Remembering Kenneth Anger
80 Turk St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Pictured: Rabbit’s Moon (1950/1972) by Kenneth Anger
Admission: $15/12 Cinematheque Members
Event tickets here
This program is presented at CounterPulse as part of CounterPulse Festival 2023
Lucifer is the angel of light, a sunbeam […] the patron saint of movies, the light behind the lens.
— Kenneth Anger*
The cinema of filmmaker Kenneth Anger (1927–2023) is the cinema of ritual, incantation and magic. Deeply influenced by the spectacle and glamor of classical Hollywood cinema, the playfully profound conjurial cinema of George Méliès and the esoteric occultism of Aleister Crowley, Anger’s oeuvre manifests a darkly shimmering cinematic netherworld populated by New Age deities and fetishistic avatars of 20th Century pop. Wildly kinetic, exploding with delirious color and ecstatic subversions of popular music, Anger’s work is generally considered to be one of the avant-garde progenitors of the music video and to this day remains perennially popular and influential while maintaining a focused, even disturbing undercurrent of dark mysticism, eroticism and danger.
This memorial screening includes five selections from Anger’s legendary Magick Lantern Cycle (1947–1980), a complex series of films exploring themes of transformation, adornment, personal alchemy and arcane ritual in the context of mid-20th Century American youth culture. Screening to include Scorpio Rising, Anger’s 1963 motorboy masterpiece of religious idolatry and leather fetishism; Scorpio’s lesser-known hot rod companion piece Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965); Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), a dark embodiment of 1960s nihilism featuring Charles Manson-ite Bobby Beausoleil and a electro-noise soundtrack by Mick Jagger; the astonishingly assertive queer teenage fever dream Fireworks (1947); and the moonstruck commedia dell’arte-inspired Rabbit’s Moon (1950/1972). (Steve Polta)
At the heart of his practice was the fundamental, mind-expanding power of the film medium, a power absent in the genres of mainstream cinema practices. Anger considered cinematographic projection a psychosocial ritual capable of unleashing physical and emotional energies. The artist saw film as nothing less than a spiritual medium, a conveyer of spectacular alchemy that transforms the viewer. (Sprüth Magers Gallery)
*Kenneth Anger interviewed by Roland Baker: “The Trials Of Lucifer”, published October 28, 1976 in the SoHo Weekly News.
Content Note: A lifelong occultist, Kenneth Anger’s filmmaking explores the intersections of ritual, esoteric spirituality, violence, sexuality and pop culture. As such, some films on this program feature imagery and symbolism which might be disturbing to some viewers.
Fireworks (1947); 16mm, b&w, sound, 15 minutes
Rabbit’s Moon (1950/1972); 16mm, color, sound 16 minutes
Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965); 16mm, color, sound, 4 minutes
Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969); 16mm, color, sound, 11 minutes
Scorpio Rising (1963); 16mm, color, sound, 29 minutes
TRT 75 minutes
Kenneth Anger (1927–2023) Offering a description of himself for the program of a 1966 screening, Kenneth Anger stated his “lifework” as being Magick and his “magical weapon” the cinematograph. A follower of Aleister Crowley’s teachings, Anger is a high level practitioner of occult magic who regards the projection of his films as ceremonies capable of invoking spiritual forces. Cinema, he claims, is an evil force. Its point is to exert control over people and events and his filmmaking is carried out with precisely that intention. (Maximilian Le Cain, January 2003)