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MOONCHILD: THE FILMS OF KENNETH ANGER
Edited By
JACK HUNTER (Creation Books; 2002)

Kenneth Anger is one of America’s most vital and interesting filmmakers.  A true artist of the “underground,” he made a handful of highly individual short films--including FIREWORKS, INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME, INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER and LUCIFER RISING--that rank among the classics of avant-garde cinema, being dazzling, trancelike invocations of light and color. 

     This heavily illustrated anthology is dedicated to analyzing those films.  I strongly doubt it will be of interest to anyone who’s not already a Kenneth Anger fan, but for those of us who value Anger’s films it’s a must--it even contains some welcome salaciousness to temper all the nerdy analysis (see the final paragraph of this review). 

     MOONCHILD consists of an introduction by Mikita Brottman that provides a solid entry into Anger’s skewed universe, followed by lengthy essays by Carel Rowe and Anna Powell, both focusing on the “magickal” and esoteric elements of Anger’s oeuvre, and finally a filmography that comprehensively lists the films Anger has made along with several tantalizing projects that for various reasons never reached fruition (an Anger-directed STORY OF O?  Color me intrigued!). 

     Powell’s piece, entitled “A Torch for Lucifer,” is the book’s longest and most accessible.  It combines a thorough knowledge of the Aleister Crowley-inspired mythology of which Anger was a lifetime adherent with a real grasp of the mechanics of filmmaking.  It’s a valuable resource for non-Crowleyites (like me) curious about what Anger was trying to convey in his oft-puzzling films. 

     Rowe’s “Blue Velvet” is less user-friendly in its approach.  It focuses primarily on Anger’s most famous work SCORPIO RISING, and goes into some detail about the Eisenstinean montage techniques Anger utilized in it and other films.  Interesting, but I think Rowe’s piece will be appreciated primarily by film students. 

     Other aspects worth mentioning are the extensive quotes and Anger-related anecdotes contained in the margins of the pages.  According to one such tidbit, Italy’s famed Tivoli Gardens fountains, featured prominently in Anger’s FAUX D’ARTIFICE, were designed as a dirty joke about their creator’s preference for being pissed on.  There’s also plenty of info on Anger’s infamous HOLLYWOOD BABYLON books, including the explanation for the cryptic caption “He knows I can’t print the indiscreet photo of him” under a shot of Marlon Brando--the “indiscreet” photo in question was apparently a shot of Brando (or at least someone who looked a lot like him) sucking another man’s cock!  Decidedly trashy gossip, sure, but it helps lend some much-needed pizzazz to an otherwise relentlessly academic volume.
 


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