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Christopher Lees

Kenneth Anger Lucifer Rising - The Proper Perspective

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It's about time I found a write up about Kenneth Anger and friends that is written from what I consider to be the proper perspective.

*********

OK, how’s this for a story? It combines a film and soundtrack 10 years in the making, black magick, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, LSD and mescaline trips, the Sexual Freedom league, Charles Manson, sweet, sweet, murder, a stint in San Quentin, occult legend Aleister Crowley, Church of Satan’s Anton LeVay, Germany’s Externsteine, and… ah you get the friggin’ picture, huh?

This weird, massive epic is the story of Kenneth Anger‘s “Lucifer Rising” and the tumultuous struggle to record its soundtrack with ’60s psyche-rocker Bobby BeauSoleil.

I can’t even attempt to do the tale justice, but basically, bat-shit crazy avante-garde, underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger tried to make his out-there, drugged-out manifesto, “Lucifer Rising” in 1968. Due to drugs and a lot of other stupid shit, he failed miserably. At the time he tried to enrole BeauSoleil to compose the soundtrack with his then psychedelic chamber music group, The Orkustra.
nutter_BeauSoleil.jpg
BeauSoleil gets so into the project his band quits. No mind, he starts a new one called The Magick Powerhouse of Oz (awesome, right?). Filmmaker and musician move in together, black magick occurs, chairs are emblazoned with 666, trips are taken (and by this we mean boatloads of drugs are ingested) and the relationship disintegrates one night onstage in a disastrous evening of flash-point drama (Anger beats someone over the head in an LSD-confused haze; a concert is ruined)

Loads of F-bombs are dropped, reels of film are stolen, fingers pointed, accusations made, unreliable narrators telling unreliable tales, fuck you collaboration.

Both go their separate ways leaving the madness that is drug-infested, syphilis-ridden Haight Ashbury San Franciso and BeauSoleil crosses path with the Manson gang. Needless to say he is quickly charged with murder when he stabs some unlucky drug dealer in the gut and murders his ass. A life sentence in San Quentin is handed down, goodbye life (he’s mentioned in the Manson book “Helter Skelter” too)
angercov4.jpg
Anger, meanwhile hires Led Zep shredder Jimmy Page to compose the score, but Page becomes rather “indisposed.” From prison, BeauSoleil gets word that Anger, years later (this is like early 1970s, i think, most confusing timeline ever), is resurrecting “Lucifer Rising.” This is unfinished business, prison be damned. The charming BeauSoleil somehow convinces prison officials that a convicted murder must create the score to what is actually avante-garde cinema, but to these people must be hippie-scum ratshit trying to pass off as freaky art.

Page, who apparently takes forever (3 years) to deliver 25-minutes of useless droning nonsense (would love to hear this now), is fired once Anger gets BeauSoleil’s impassioned plea to work on the project once more.
page.jpg
From prison, the convicted murderer, builds keyboards, builds electric guitars and creates a score for $3,000 that is a claustrophobic and volcanic psychedelic head-trip. This inventive nutjob does final mixes, splicing and sequencing in his tiny little cell (you also have to potty in their, gross). BeauSoleil watches the film once and somehow the score fits perfectly (of course it does, you watch it high as a kite and it works, duh).

What I gather from the rest of this crazy, rambling story is that somehow the band the Freedom Orchestra is involved and these recordings – made in ’77-’79 – are added to Anger’s now-legendary film and then promptly lost forever (the film finally comes out in 1980, which is more than 10 years from inception if you understand basic mathematics, which I apparently do not).

Some years later a journalist asks BeauSoleil (who still resides in prison and continues to be denied parole) where the tapes for the soundtrack are and he denies their existence. Finally, an old Orkustra bandmember finds them in his house some 30 years later and voila, this fucking long-winded story is thankfully over (shit, you should try reading the press release, it’s like studying for a term paper).

Wow, I’m so exhausted, I may never listen to this entire score again. It’s dark, sometimes ambient, feverish psychedelia, not unlike you might see in an early (and bad) Peter Fonda movie like “The Trip.” This mean, Vice RecordsAdam Shore is going to love it to pieces. The end.

Why didn’t Jimmy Page compose the score to “Lucifer Rising”? He was chasing the dragon according to Anger. Which isn’t far fetched, Pagey had well-documented problems with junk.
“Lucifer Rising” Bummer trip dude…

In what is known as an “editorial stretch” in the biz, (ok, that’s actually what I call it), Kenneth Anger’s avante garde homo-erotic biker film/sort-of companion piece film, “Scorpio Rising,” was the primary influence behind electro-rockers Death In Vegas’ criminally underrated 2001 record Scorpio Rising. “Scorpio Rising’s” soundtrack is excellent too (lots of girl groups), but that will be another post.

Retrieved from https://theplaylist.net/lucifuge-kenneth-anger-and-bobby-20070405/

 

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Was the person who wrote that sniffing glue at the time? It's virtually unreadable.

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22 minutes ago, Mook said:

Was the person who wrote that sniffing glue at the time? It's virtually unreadable.

Oh I don’t know Mook...that’s pretty insulting to glue sniffers 

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41 minutes ago, Mook said:

Was the person who wrote that sniffing glue at the time? It's virtually unreadable.

What's your problem? This is an excellent article and it's extremely well written. There's nothing hard to follow about this article at all. He puts it all into perspective nicely. Kenneth Anger is pure shit. It doesn't matter that all the artsy-fartsy old hippies called him an "artist" or referred to his crap as "work" (gotta love how they do that). That's one of those "The Emperor has no clothes" deals. The more *shit* something is, the more the contrarians have to call it *art* or refer to it as "his work", the implication being that if you think it's shit, then you're just not hip, intellectual, out of the zeitgeist and so on. I think a lot of people in the Zeppelin community think that just because Jimmy Page had a connection with Kenneth Anger and Lucifer Rising, that somehow it must be brilliant. Anger must be brilliant. Somehow, to criticize Kenneth Anger is to criticize Jimmy Page. That's how fan boys get sucked into this bullshit. Jimmy Page = genius. Kenneth Anger = shit.

Let's be clear about this.

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Honestly, the movie is an unwatchable mess.   It’s  like a student film, so crude.   

Jimmys soundtrack is marginally interesting.

both film and music are evil and disturbing and don’t merit repeat viewings IMHO

 

 

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2 hours ago, Xolo1974 said:

Oh I don’t know Mook...that’s pretty insulting to glue sniffers 

Remember kids, solvent abuse is not big & it's not clever.

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Lucifer Rising is a shit movie, just a complete mess and either soundtrack (Page or BeauSoleil ) stinks. Though Page's is a wee bit better but not by much as it is mostly repetitive droning, the whole of the movie and soundtrack is a waste of a good 30min you will never get back.

Anger is a tempestuous dick at his very best and a dangerous nut at his worse, but his biggest crime is being a complete hack as a movie maker. I do not know all the details but the likely reason for the Page-Anger collaboration was Page's interest in Crowley & the occult and his association with that scene which brought him into contact with Anger possibly via Mick Jagger. Page quickly realized Anger was a nut and tried to accommodate him from a distance so to speak hoping he would go away on his own. Unfortunately, Page did not understand the depths of Angers batshit demeanor or the fact that once Anger gets you he does not tend to let go. Anger was eventually physically removed, along with his editing equipment, from Page's basement in 76' I believe.

That being said I do like Anger's book Hollywood Babylon as it has some interesting stories. He is a better pulp writer than an avante garde filmmaker that's for sure but a more disagreeable and cantankerous man you will be hard pressed to find. I would love to get Anger and Ginger Baker together, now that confrontation would be epic!

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That article/post/whatever would be better served by an editor/proofreader that could sculpt and organize it into a coherent form. That is what Mook was commenting on, Christopher Lees. Mook wasn't defending Kenneth Anger.

How old is that article anyway? The writer mentions wanting to hear Jimmy Page's dronings when they have been available for years.

Kenneth Anger is past-tense. The endless fascination with him is comical when you see the sorry state he is in now. To call him a dangerous man is hilarious. He is more a pathetic piss-stained, broken down wretch. He literally smells like piss every time I see him. If it wasn't for arty-types and Euro trash fawning over him and arranging his films to be shown at various film festivals or museums, he would be completely forgotten.

I have seen his films and while there are some flashes of interest, as a whole there just isn't enough to warrant him being thought of as some artistic genius.  In the avante-garde world he is nowhere near someone like Maya Deren or Brakhage or even Andy Warhol.

As for his books, "Hollywood Babylon" is amusing at best, until you realize it is mostly made-up garbage. Typical fag-hag bitch-fest that dealt more in shock-innuendo fantasy than fact. Poor Clara Bow did not deserve to have a cretin like Kenneth Anger slander her.

Jimmy Page is in far better shape than Kenneth Anger these days. Karma has favoured Jimmy over Kenneth. Whatever curse Kenneth put on Jimmy (if that rumour is true), it seems to have boomeranged back onto Kenneth Anger.

 

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1 hour ago, Strider said:

That article/post/whatever would be better served by an editor/proofreader that could sculpt and organize it into a coherent form. That is what Mook was commenting on, Christopher Lees. Mook wasn't defending Kenneth Anger.

How old is that article anyway? The writer mentions wanting to hear Jimmy Page's dronings when they have been available for years.

Kenneth Anger is past-tense. The endless fascination with him is comical when you see the sorry state he is in now. To call him a dangerous man is hilarious. He is more a pathetic piss-stained, broken down wretch. He literally smells like piss every time I see him. If it wasn't for arty-types and Euro trash fawning over him and arranging his films to be shown at various film festivals or museums, he would be completely forgotten.

I have seen his films and while there are some flashes of interest, as a whole there just isn't enough to warrant him being thought of as some artistic genius.  In the avante-garde world he is nowhere near someone like Maya Deren or Brakhage or even Andy Warhol.

As for his books, "Hollywood Babylon" is amusing at best, until you realize it is mostly made-up garbage. Typical fag-hag bitch-fest that dealt more in shock-innuendo fantasy than fact. Poor Clara Bow did not deserve to have a cretin like Kenneth Anger slander her.

Jimmy Page is in far better shape than Kenneth Anger these days. Karma has favoured Jimmy over Kenneth. Whatever curse Kenneth put on Jimmy (if that rumour is true), it seems to have boomeranged back onto Kenneth Anger.

 

There's always a high price to pay for using magik and it usually takes it's toll on the body so it makes sense that his hatred of Jimmy i.e the curse has destroyed him physically.  :whistling:

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7 hours ago, hummingbird69 said:

There's always a high price to pay for using magik and it usually takes it's toll on the body so it makes sense that his hatred of Jimmy i.e the curse has destroyed him physically.  :whistling:

It seems the curse chose to take a toll on Jimmy's career instead. :drumz:

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7 hours ago, SteveAJones said:

It seems the curse chose to take a toll on Jimmy's career instead. :drumz:

Lol,  It was tongue in cheek but,  I don't know?  Although it's been reduced to press junkets and photo ops it seems his career is still going. Although Jimmy is still healthy,  as long as Zeppelin remains popular then, technically,  his career is still viable. It is his ability to play that's been lost and making that happen physically destroyed anger.  Not that I believe in that but you get the gist.

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1971: Page attended an auction of Crowley manuscripts at Sotheby's in London and met Kenneth Anger for the first time...outbid Anger on a book…Anger visited his home to see his collection of Crowley books…they collaborated on the first exhibit in a gallery of Crowley's paintings and drawings....he visited anger at his apartment and Anger outlined his idea for a film that he had already begun shooting in Egypt…Page accepted a commission to provide the music...he put Anger up in Boleskine House on Loch Ness

Nov 1972: Page continued to work on the soundtrack for Kenneth Anger's 'Lucifer Rising'

Source: Jimmy Page (Summer 2006)

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On 12/7/2018 at 8:10 AM, bluecongo said:

Honestly, the movie is an unwatchable mess.   It’s  like a student film, so crude.   

Jimmys soundtrack is marginally interesting.

both film and music are evil and disturbing and don’t merit repeat viewings IMHO

 

 

Spot on, brother!

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1 hour ago, babysquid said:

Erm... I actually liked Lucifer Rising

It's not just about the crap that is called, "Lucifer Rising", it's also about Kenneth Anger being a bat shit crazy asshole and the ridiculous hippies and hippy wannabees that give him accolades. The only reason the little hippy kids dig it is because it says "Lucifer" in the title, and they think it's hip, cool and trendy to dig Lucifer, not from a religious perspective, but from a cool, somewhat distant, thoughtful, intellectual perspective. It proves you're an "artist". People can feel the mystical magic coming off of such a hippy lol.

Just for the record, I started this thread to bash Kenneth Anger and Lucifer Rising. I don't mean to offend anybody. Just having fun.

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My wife bought the Kenneth Anger Magic Lantern Cycle/Anger Me three BFI DVD set a couple of years or so ago of which LR is part of. We spent a couple of evenings going through them. We concluded that  the ten films in the set are  utter arty farty garbage. No way I'd waste any time watching any of Anger's shite ever again. 

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You know that Jimmy Page appears in the film for a few seconds? And he wasn‘t cut out when the filmwas released.

I saw the film, it‘s.. well how should I say... special. There are some directors like Alejandro Jodorowsky who did similar films.. I think it‘s something you can argue about if they are good or not. Fact is the whole topic about occultism fascinated people and it still does. 

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2 hours ago, tea4one said:

You know that Jimmy Page appears in the film for a few seconds? And he wasn‘t cut out when the filmwas released.

I saw the film, it‘s.. well how should I say... special. There are some directors like Alejandro Jodorowsky who did similar films.. I think it‘s something you can argue about if they are good or not. Fact is the whole topic about occultism fascinated people and it still does. 

Anger is nowhere near Jodorowsky's level. "El Topo" and "Holy Mountain" are miles above "Lucifer Rising".

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A review of Bohemian Vito Paulekas may reveal more details of Kenneth Anger's talent scouting and directive techniques circa 1968.  I ran into this name while reading "Weird scenes inside The Canyon" by Dave McGowan.bc7a20c0-9280-4f3b-bf40-6971b194f487-1.j

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1 hour ago, Strider said:

Anger is nowhere near Jodorowsky's level. "El Topo" and "Holy Mountain" are miles above "Lucifer Rising".

I totally agree. „Holy Mountain“ is a great film. I think Jodorowksy has much more knowledge about symbolism and occultism and his films have more ingenuity and profundity.

Edited by tea4one

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21 hours ago, Christopher Lees said:

Kenneth Anger being a bat shit crazy asshole and the ridiculous hippies and hippy wannabees that give him accolades. The only reason the little hippy kids dig it is because it says "Lucifer" in the title, and they think it's hip, cool and trendy to dig Lucifer, not from a religious perspective, but from a cool, somewhat distant, thoughtful, intellectual perspective. It proves you're an "artist". People can feel the mystical magic coming off of such a hippy lol.

Aww no!!! I’m one of them now! Arrrgghhh!!!!

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Here is an article from 2014

https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/kenneth-anger-on-the-resurrection-of-lucifer-rising

 

Forty one years ago, Los Angeles filmmaker and magus Kenneth Anger collaborated with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page to create the soundtrack to Anger's mystical film "Lucifer Rising." Shortly thereafter -- for reasons both scandalous and scurrilous -- the two fell out and the version they envisioned was thought to be lost. The film was reworked with another line of sonic thought -- that of musician, poet and murderous Manson family alumnus Bobby Beausoleil -- and over the years manifested itself in different releases, not all of them particularly optimal for the express intention of seeing, either mystically or otherwise. By the time the "final" version of the film premiered at the Whitney Museum in New York City in late December of 1980, it was the culmination of a process that had taken almost 15 years to pursue.

But it wasn't the end.

Recently, Anger's colleague Brian Butler rediscovered the original cut in a mislabeled box languishing in the Anger archives. A lost film ranking in repute with the original cut of "The Wicker Man" and the true-red color ending of Taxi Driver, it's been fully restored and screens April 17 in downtown L.A. at the former United Artists Theatre in the Ace Hotel -- which, suitably enough, also existed as a mislabeled box for many years (the ornate theater has recently undergone a dramatic makeover).

It's cool and convivial inside the 95-year-old confines of Musso & Frank, the Hollywood Boulevard steak place that, like Kenneth Anger, is one of the few remaining links to the old Hollywood. It's here that Anger and Butler discuss the new life of "Lucifer Rising" with me. Anger was pleased when Butler had announced he'd discovered the buried treasure, even as the auteur focuses on his current works -- including his latest, a series of films culled from archival sources about the first airships.

"It just got misplaced and then it turned up," Anger admits. "I don't put metaphysical baggage on things." Butler: "It took quite a bit of work in the laboratories to get the print cleaned up because it was just so old." What did he think when knew what he'd found? "I was happy because I'd always wondered, like a lot of people did, what it was." Interest in Anger's work remains high even today. Although the theatre is 1600 seats strong, the Cinespia-presented event has almost completely sold out. Is it still a thrill to him after all this time to see such a response? "I like it better than if nobody came!" he laughs.

"Lucifer Rising" -- a phantasmagoria of allegorical images lasting around a half-hour -- was filmed in locations in Egypt and England charged with various kinds of sorcery. The differences in soundtracks are striking: Beausoleil's stringed twinges, grinding organ and baldly rock freakouts are in sharp contrast to the faintly clinical, highly mesmeric synth passages of Page, who appears bearded in the film admiring a photograph of Aleister Crowley. Starting with volcanic eruptions at sunrise and flowing dreamlike through a panoply of esoteric symbols passed down since time immemorial -- which may or may not include swimming tigers and crushed cobras.

Still from "Lucifer Rising"
Still from "Lucifer Rising."

It stars singer Marianne Faithfull as Lilith, Beausoleil and "Performance" director and longtime Anger friend Donald Cammell as Osiris. The film emerged at the crucial point in time between the mysticism of the Aquarian Age and the cynicism of the "Me Generation." Lest one think that Anger's affections lie deep in the beating heart of that Summer of Love, he claims, "I have always considered movies evil; the day that cinema was invented was a black day for mankind. My reason for filming has nothing to do with "cinema" at all; it's a transparent excuse for capturing people, so I consider myself as working evil in an evil medium."

Still from "Lucifer Rising"
Still from "Lucifer Rising."

As for Jimmy Page, Anger has lost contact with him. "I haven't been in touch with him in about ten years," Anger admits, at which point Butler clarifies, "He did release his remastered version of the soundtrack a couple of years ago." It's a situation that's reminiscent of when director Alejandro Jodorowsky and financier Allen Klein reconciled their decades-long feud, resulting in the re-release of Jodorowsky's films "El Topo" and "The Holy Mountain." No bad blood anymore between Anger and Page? "Not that I know of," Anger chuckles. When the subject arises of the poor-quality bootlegs of the Page-soundtracked "Lucifer Rising" circulating in the last few years on YouTube, however, Anger spits in scorn, "I hated those."

The working process with Jimmy Page was a straightforward arrangement. "We got along. Either you get along or you don't. We got along fine; we had a shared interest in Aleister Crowley, and he has an incredible collection of books on Crowley. The thing that drew us both together was books," Anger says. "I have a few books about Crowley that I bought before the interest in him soared. In the early 1950s, you could pick up, in a used bookstore, inscribed copies for a reasonably price. In fact, I first met [Page] at Sotheby's when he outbid me on a Crowley book that I wanted. Of course, he got it because he had enough money to have it."

Still from "Lucifer Rising"
Still from "Lucifer Rising."

"It had a checkered kind of history," Anger recalls about making the film. "People falling in and out of the project -- but I wouldn't give up on it. So I persisted. I took Marianne Faithfull to Egypt; I'd been there five times and I'd always managed well there. My cameraman was Michael Cooper, who was known by then as a still photographer. He shot the cover of (The Beatles') "Sgt. Pepper;" several of my friends have committed suicide. Michael was one of them (Nb. Cooper died of a heroin overdose in 1973)." About Cammell, the film's Osiris, he remembers, "Well, he was preoccupied with death...and then he killed himself. That seemed like a logical thing to do, because he was romantically interested in death. And so he put a bullet through his head -- which didn't surprise me, because he was always romantically inclined toward death."

Other Anger films from the Magick Lantern Cycle - a cavalcade of Anger's shorts from the 1950s through the 1970s - will also be screened alongside "Lucifer Rising." Magick - spelled with a "k," lest it be confused with the province of card sharks and escape artists - isn't the kind of simple-minded sorcery seen in the casting of spells that bewitches, say, Darrin Stephens into a goat by his mother-in-law Endora. But does magick still mean anything to Anger anymore? "Well, I refuse to answer that question," he states flatly. "Magick is...either you understand it and appreciate it, or it just passes you by. It isn't something you turn on and off -- either it's there, or it's not. It's there for me because I've studied the subject all my life and I don't need to impress anybody or show them tricks or anything."

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