Scorpio Rising: The Anti-Mad Men, Anti-American Graffiti

There are two reasons to enjoy Scorpio Rising - the conflicted legacy of our liberal post-war, post-Christendom culture, and the techniques Scorpio uses to describe those tensions. Scoprio Rising is the 1964 short classic by Kenneth Anger.  Anger was an openly gay occultist who paled around with Anton LaVey - a poster child for conservatism's critique of the excess of the 1960's.  This film was censored for alleged indecency until the Supreme Court stepped in.

The symbolism in the film is obvious enough to be almost ham-handed.  Jesus is irrelevant; we worship James Dean and Elvis Presley now.  Healing the blind has given way to indulgent orgies.  Nazism is among our new idols now that God is dead.

This isn't some sort of Ben Stein documentary.  For one, Anger doesn't necessarily see these as negative developments.  If his new world reminds us of fascism, he is a reminder that the "left" and the "right" aren't are opposed as we suppose.  The muscled, oiled machines (both bikes and boys) are superior to the weak old morality.

This isn't the Age of Aquarius - this is the Age of Scorpio.

For another, Scoprio Rising is the key example of sound montage editing.  We've got a dozen pop songs, juxtaposed with brilliant cuts - some quick, and some slow.  Anger develops a poetics of visual and audial association that isn't sneaky and isn't manipulative.  We see, and we understand.

Really, if you're curious about fundamental film grammar, this is one of the 2 or 3 must sees.

Scorpio Rising is #392 on the Top 1000 Films list I’m working on.  I’ve now seen 355.

Watch it for free on Google Video below:  (NSFW, if you didn't already pick up on that)