Thursday, 21 August 2008


So on Tuesday night it really did happen. Kenneth Anger, the iconic filmmaker, writer, magician and whatever else came to Dundee and we saw a selection of his films. The man himself was very courteous and charming, signing autographs (see yesterday's post) before the event and taking questions from the floor afterwards.

During his introduction, Anger spoke of his affection for Scotland (Kenneth was the name of a Scottish fighter pilot, a friend of the Anglemeyer family) and of his recent visit to the house of Aleister Crowley on the hill above Loch Ness. The first part of the screening comprised a few films from the Magick Lantern Cycle, all classics of independent cinema that have lost none of their strange power:
Lucifer Rising (1973)
Rabbit's Moon (1950)
Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969)

There followed an amazing screening of new and rarely-seen work, all made since Anger's return to film-making in the 21st century.

The Man We Want To Hang (2002).
Shots of paintings and drawings of and by Aleister Crowley, with a soundtrack by Liadov (according to my Anger monograph). This was an enjoyable piece, about 10 minutes in length, which showed a great many intriguing, surprisingly contemporary-looking artworks by the occultist.

Mouse Heaven (2004)
Introduced by Anger as a tribute to that "demonic imp" Mickey Mouse, whose current incarnation is said to be a travesty of the Dutch animator Ub Iwerks' original design. The film lasted about 15 minutes I think. It mostly featured shots of the Birnkrant collection of rare vintage Mickey Mouse toys, many filmed in close up with moving riveted limbs and jaws. The soundtrack (again, according to my Anger book) was by the ragtime specialist Ian Whitcomb, and also featured a song by the Proclaimers(!)

My Surfing Lucifer (marked 2007, I think)
A young man surfs in the sunshine to the soundtrack of the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations. This lasted as long as the tune, which would be about 7 minutes.

Elliott's Suicide - Tribute to Elliott Smith (1969-2003)
A tribute to the songwriter, comprising mostly performance footage and fan tributes. Lasted about 20 minutes and as I've no interest in this person I didn't care much for the film.

Foreplay (possibly 2008?)
This was shots of footballers training and exercising, with a soundtrack of quite dodgy trance music that kept cutting out for some reason.

Ich Will! (2000)
Footage from Nazi propaganda films of the Hitler Youth, edited in time to an orchestral score. Enjoyable, provocative, and due to be shown soon at the Imperial War Museum in London. This lasted about 40 minutes and featured a brief few moments when the colours went all psychedelic as the image split into symmetrical halves.

There was also an extra presentation in the upstairs gallery, where the crowd was invited up for a 5 minute screening from a DVD player and projector. This turned out to be something called I"ll Be Watching You, a short soft porn film with two men getting it on in an underground car park as a security guard watched them on the CCTV. The soundtrack was by The Police, and afterwards Mr Anger shuffled past with his briefcase and chuckled, "Excuse me, I just need to pick up my dirty movie here!"

The whole event lasted about three hours. We all saw more material than surely anyone can have expected, and it still seems amazing for something like this to occur here in Dundee. But it did, it really happened, and it's certainly not going to be happening again any time soon.

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