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Monday, 25 April 2016

The 5th Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Short Film - Scorpio Rising (1963) - Kenneth Anger

After having meant to so for a while, I decided one day last month to sit myself down and watch some Kenneth Anger’s short films. I thought that I would watch them over the course of two or three days. Well, instead, aside from a short interval walking the dog, I spent most of an afternoon and the early evening watching through his Magick Lantern Cycle (by way of BFI’s excellent 2011 Blu-Ray + DVD release). Now while there are four or five others I could quite easily put in, I decided to go with Scorpio Rising. Like much of Anger’s work, the film is silent as regards dialogue, instead featuring a soundtrack of contemporary music by the likes of Elvis Presley, Bobby Vinton, Ray Charles, The Angels, The Crystals and many more. Notwithstanding the music, Anger, a filmmaker who understands the essence of montage, creates a brilliant work whose thematic content references his interest in the occult, biker subculture, Catholicism, Nazism and homosexuality. So controversial at the time, in fact, that the American Nazi Party protested that it offended their flag, and it was brought to the California Supreme Court on obscenity charges (not Anger’s first dance with the Supreme Court. Sixteen years earlier, his film Fireworks got him arrested on the same charges). It remains a startling and provocative work to this day.

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