Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Scorpio Rising (Kenneth Anger)

Opening scene.

Being one of the more truly divisive films that have since become cult classics, "Scorpio Rising" has always been a curiosity for me, despite of its slightly icky homosexual theme. Indeed, after watching the film in its 28-minute entirety, I can definitely see where numerous film enthusiasts are coming from when they hail the film as an influential piece of underground cinema. Sure, with its psychedelic amalgamation of religious iconography, Nazism and the rising 'rebel' culture of the '60s, "Scorpio Rising" is quite effective in terms of pushing forth a distorted state of mind. But for me, the film lacks the ultimate gut-punch, which Kenneth Anger, its director, could have easily pulled off, especially with the often understated power of terseness on his side.
As an experimental film, the film surely has some intriguing moments (the church scene is one of those), but ultimately, I was left quite unsure about the film's focus and where it truly resides. Yes, it is a given that Kenneth Anger is seemingly trying to assert the fact that riders consider their hobby as nothing short of a religion just like how Christians herald Christianity and Nazis highly regard Nazism. But hell, I haven't felt the sense of cohesion needed for such a potentially compelling commentary on hobbyist obsession. And why add the fictitious aspect of homosexuality in the film? For me, whatever the context of this aspect may be, I think it was just injected so that, you know, the film can take on a new layer of pseudo-complexity.
Constructively speaking, instead of making the film a befuddling experimental/mood piece just like what it is, Anger could have potentially made "Scorpio Rising" a full-fledged anthropological film about the motorists' alternative lifestyle and whether or not they can bode well with the fabric of mainstream Americana. With that, I think the film could have easily expressed what "Easy Rider" has powerfully done so just 5 years after it. I did enjoy the soundtrack, though. Honestly, I could listen to the songs at any given time.
At the end of the day, it's quite easy to see the film's encompassing visual influence on other filmmakers, notably Martin Scorsese and David Lynch. But what is quite difficult now to make sense of is why the film is considered 'great'. If you remove the stock footage from "The Living Bible: Last Journey to Jerusalem" short and half of the film's music, what we're merely left with is a plodding little film that has its sights on nothing but tires and leather boots and its destination to nowhere but the directionless path to pretense.


No comments:

Post a Comment

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Ivan6655321's Schneider 1001 movies widget