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The Enigmatic Impact of the Magick Lantern Cycle

Do what thou wilt, but consider watching this video essay on Kenneth Anger’s life’s work.
Lucifer Rising magick lantern cycle Kenneth Anger
Puck Film Productions
By  · Published on August 20th, 2020

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that explores Kenneth Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle.

Like all the best avant-garde counterculture figures, Kenneth Anger is hard to talk about.

His politics are evasive. His personal life is shrouded in mystery. And to describe his films as enigmatic would be an understatement. And yet, the man’s impact on cinema is simply astounding. He’s like an occult, art-house Forest Gump, brushing shoulders with the likes of Federico Fellini, Jean Cocteau, and Alejandro Jodorowsky while effectively pioneering the concept of low-budget independent cinema. With a gay narrative horror film in 1949 no less!

Anger is most famous for Hollywood Babylon, a scandalous and wildly popular gossip text comprised of untrue and exaggerated short stories about the rich and famous. But, as the video essay below suggests, Anger should be known instead for the series of nine short films he created from 1947 to 1970. His life’s work: the “Magick Lantern Cycle” — an anthology of nine ritualistic films including Fireworks (1947), Puce Moment (1949), Rabbit’s Moon (1950), Eaux d’Artifice (1953), Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1964), Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), and Lucifer Rising (1981).

The Cycle is replete with surrealism, sexuality, and spectacle. With an undeniable visual impact, it’s like a bad trip stretched over four decades. A hypnotic, upsetting dream, feverishly working through ideas of hatred, hope, and hedonism. It’s weird and it’s obtuse but, as the essay below underlines, there’s no denying the Magick Lantern Cycle left its mark on American cinema by creating a visual language of disobedience.

Watch “The Mysteries of the Magick Lantern Cycle“:

Who made this?

In Praise of Shadows is a video essay channel run by Zane Whitener and based in Asheville, North Carolina, that focuses on horror, history, and retrospectives. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.