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Lucifer Rising

Today, Maverick at the Movies continues its month long Halloween theme with Bobby Beausoleil’s entire score to Kenneth Anger’s film Lucifer Rising.

Lucifer Rising is an infamous short film from experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger. The film portrays the birth of Lucifer to Mesopotamian gods Isis and Osiris and the birth is a metaphor for the start of a new age. The film was a part of a series of shorts by Anger, who had written the book Hollywood Babylon, a tell-all of scandals in Hollywood. Anger was also an avid reader of Aliester Crowley’s writings and was also involved in the formation of the Church of Satan. He interpreted the Age of Aquarius and the counter cultural movement as the Age of Horus that Crowley had anticipated and viewed making films like casting spells. He had been quoted as saying, “I consider myself working evil in an evil medium.”

The original version of Lucifer Rising was supposedly finished in 1967 and was to be publicly screened at The Equinox of the Gods, an event that included live music and performance art. In the initial version of the film, Bobby Beausoleil was cast as Lucifer. However, in between the production and the event, the relationship between Beausoleil and Anger had disintegrated. Anger accused Beausoleil of ripping off 1600 feet of film and some of the camera equipment and, being a practitioner of the dark arts, supposedly put a curse on Beausoleil. Beausoleil has denied this, claiming that Anger’s accusations were a cover to the film’s investors for work that was never completed.

Anger picked up the remaining pieces of the original version of Lucifer Rising and assembled a new short film, Invocation of My Demon Brother. He had attracted the interest of Mick Jagger and Kieth Richards of Rolling Stones and Jagger is credited with the score to Invocation of My Demon Brother. Subsequently, Anger was at least a partial inspiration for “Sympathy for the Devil” by Rolling Stones.

After working with Anger, a series of tragedies befell the Stones, including the death of Rolling Stone’s guitarist Brian Jones and the Altamont disaster seen in Gimme Shelter. Meanwhile, Beausoleil had joined the Manson family and found himself in prison for murdering a drug dealer. This was unrelated the Tate and LaBianca murders that turned Charles Manson into the social pariah.

Anger began to remake Lucifer Rising in 1970. He contacted Jimmy Page, who apparently shared Anger’s interest in Crowley’s writings, to produce the score. Unfortunately, Page was unable to produce enough music to fill the duration of the film. At the same time Beausoleil had formed a band inside of prison and got back in touch with Anger, and the two of them patched up their relationship. Anger fired Jimmy Page and rehired Beausoleil to complete the musical score from the film, although Page’s score has since been released as bootleg. Anger and Beausoleil worked with minimum interaction with Beausoleil scoring inside of prison and together, the two men produced a legendary piece of underground cinema.

For more information on Lucifer Rising see the following:

  • Lucifer Rising by Gavin Baddeley – A book on the history of Satanism and popular culture, focusing mostly on music and film, and includes an interview with Anger.
  • Lucifer Rising soundtrack – This two disc release of Beausoleil’s score by Arcanum Entertainment includes unreleased and unused music and a booklet that includes linear notes by Anger, Beausoleil, and Michael Mynahan
  • The Films of Kenneth Anger – A two volume set of Anger’s films. Volume II includes Lucifer Rising and Invocation of My Demon Brother and features commentary by Anger and a booklet of essays and photos.
  • Bobby Beausoleil’s website – Includes biographical information and Beausoleil’s current artistic and spiritual endeavors.
  • Senses of Cinema article on Kenneth Anger – Includes biographical information and a short filmography.

Here is a look at Anger’s work in the form of two trailers for Fantoma’s compilations of Anger’s work:

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