Lucifer Rising

Revisiting Kenneth Anger's Iconic Film

Lucifer Rising (1966-80), by Kenneth Anger. Colour, Sound, 16mm.

FILMED BETWEEN 1966 AND 1980 by the self-proclaimed Magus of cinema, Kenneth Anger, Lucifer Rising is Anger’s portrait of the love generation, the dawning of a new age and morality. Continuing on from his previous works where fashion becomes a tool of power to conjure a magical sense of being, an invisible and volatile force, Lucifer Rising furthers this exploration crossing through millennia and civilisations. Divinely clad gods and goddesses salute and call upon each other in unison as the manifestation of an omniscient, immortal force.

Appearing as goddess Lilith, countercultural icon Marianne Faithfull emerges in a hooded cloak. The film’s central theme is the impersonation of gods, known to occultist Aleister Crowley as the Dramatic Ritual. Anger situates style in the realm of myth, potent with spiritual, symbolic and potentially magical value. As Isis and Osiris appear in Egypt, clothes become the expression of an archetype, each in turn revealed as the corresponding elements of fire, earth, wind, and water are invoked. At the centre of a ceremonial circle, a young Magus wearing a floor length multi-coloured patterned coat enters, marking the simultaneous function of style as status symbol and an aesthetically strong purveyor of the counterculture of the times: clothes mysteriously speaking in tongues, in a language of their very own.

A still from Lucifer Rising (1966-1980), a film by Kenneth Anger. Colour, 16mm, 28mins.

Stills from Lucifer Rising (1966-1980), by Kenneth Anger. Colour, 16mm, 28mins.

Sophie Pinchetti is an editor, writer and founder of the independant magazine The Third Eye.