Kenneth Anger isn't for everyone, this is true. But all real film lovers should thank the British Film Institute for piecing together this compilation of his most important work, let alone the UCLA's Film & Television Archive, as well The Film Foundation, for laying down some much needed restoration work on the original material.
That material defies labelling. Call it surrealism, call it avant-garde. Call it "experimental", call it "underground", call it whatever you like. What cannot be denied is the tremendous behind-the-scenes influence this auteur (in the word's truest sense - he preferred to work alone) has had on several generations of more mainstream oriented actors and directors alike, both in Europe - France in particular - and in The United States.
It's futile to speak in conventional terms, about cinematography and story lines, acting and directing. Kenneth Anger's films are meant to be experienced, not simply watched. Himself a practising occultist and an outspoken fan of Aleister Crowley, the films are more like bizarre shamanic rituals, or perhaps (often quite terrible) dream sequences, than stories that give themselves up for analysis and "understanding".
The Magick Lantern Cycle is strongly recommended for those who enjoy surrealism in movies as well those who simply want to own a piece of film history. Included on the two disc set is a 70 minute sequence where Kenneth Anger talks about his life and experiences; his views on art in general and film in particular. Personally, I am well pleased with this product -- but, as I said initially, it's an acquired taste and not for everyone.
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