‘Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon’: Nigel Finch’s documentary from 1991

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Kenneth Anger didn’t like Nigel Finch’s documentary on Hollywood Babylon. He thought Finch’s film ended up more about Finch than it did about Anger. It was like a test run for making a movie, which of course Finch went on to make. Anger told me this while we waited in my room, at the Standard Hotel, West Hollywood, Fall 2004. I was about to interview Kenneth for a documentary, and while we chatted, waiting for the crew to set-up, he tore stories out of tabloid newspapers to send to the Kinsey Institute, and I smoked on the balcony, watching the shimmer of eucalyptus trees in the late morning breeze.

When it was time for the interview, we walked along the orange-carpeted corridor only to be stopped by another film crew who were making a movie. At a half-corridor stood George Clooney and Brad Pitt, filming a scene for Ocean’s Twelve. Both looked smaller, their heads somehow bigger. They must have kept their magic for the camera, for it seemed that neither had the presence or, looked as grand a star as Kenneth Anger, who stood half in shadow, quietly waiting by the AD.

Nigel Finch’s ambitious documentary uses Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon as its keystone to build a film about Anger’s life, his movies, his interest in Hollywood and its stars’ scandalous lives. But what is evident amongst all this is that Anger is too big a genius, too complex a character to be fitted in between dramatic reconstructions of Fatty Arbuckle, and tales of Hollywood death and disaster. Though there are some excellent moments, the documentary teases the viewer, leaving an unfulfilled desire to know more about the great Magus of Cinema. Still, it’s worth the price of admission, if only to catch Kenneth Anger on film.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Kenneth Anger: Infiltrating the Pentagon
05.20.2010
01:12 pm

Topics:
History

Tags:
Kenneth Anger
Hollywood Babylon

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The current Arthur‘s running a lengthy piece entitled, “Out! Demons Out!: An Oral History of the 1967 Exorcism of the Pentagon and the Birth of Yippie!”  Dangerous Minds hero Kenneth Anger is just one of the many voices chiming in (Allen Ginsberg, Paul Krassner, and Ed Sanders are others), but, judging from the snips below, the filmmaker’s bluntly amusing jabs might be hard to top.  Here’s his take on what it was like infiltrating the Pentagon:

There were a bunch of idiots there.  I didn’t consider myself an idiot, but maybe other people would. [laughs] There were these hothead lefties, who, their idea was they would take over and kill the capitalists.  Well, that’s not very practical.  Then there were Hare Krishnas, peacenik idiots, saying peace peace, or something like that.  I didn’t go for anything like that.  It was so annoying.

I just walked right in.  I had studied how the Pentagon staff were dressed, and I was just like them.  I wore a dark blue conservative suit.  I even had a small American flag on my lapel.  I was attacking Mars, the god of War.  He’s still our ruling god.  If you think Mars is an extinct thing from the antique past that we can just laugh at now, forget it.  Mars is still here.

I had a map of the Pentagon.  I went into every single men’s room and left—in a place where it was bound to be discovered, usually on the seat where anyone using that stall would have to see it, not on the floor, of course! —a talisman which was written on parchment paper, drawn in india ink.  Each one was drawn individually using one of Crowley’s talismans as my guide.  I’m sure no one in the Pentagon could figure out what this thing meant.  There was nothing like “War is bad” on it.  There weren’t even English words.  They probably could figure out it was something occult.  They know about those things, and they have a reference library.

I went from one men’s room to the next.  I didn’t stop until I had scattered all 93 of my talismans—because 93 is a sacred number for Crowley.  Then I walked out, it was all very inconspicuous.  The security guard looked at me and gave me a nice look, like we’re all looking after each other.  If I’d been stopped and put in handcuffs that would’ve been unpleasant.  That isn’t the way I want to spend my time in Washington—I had a ticket to the opera for later that week.

Won’t you now take some time out for a Puce Moment?

Written by Bradley Novicoff | Discussion