Invocation of My Demon Brother (Kenneth Anger, 1969, USA)

Invocation of My Demon Brother is an 11-minute short directed by Kenneth Anger. Made in the final hours of the summer of love (1969), the film presaged many of the darker elements that would come to the fore in that year - notably, the film features an appearance from Charles Manson associate and convicted murderer Bobby Beausoleil. Anger shot the film in the William Westerfield house, also known as the former "Russian Embassy" nightclub, in the heart of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The house was a noteworthy location in the neighborhood which later on called members of the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company its residences.

Invocation is notable in Anger's filmography for featuring the director himself, something which gives it similarity with Fireworks. Anger appears in full regalia here, performing some kind of ritual. Also notably present in the film are Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, and the founder of the Church of Satan - Anton LaVey. The latter half of the short film showcases a Satanic burial ritual for someone's pet cat. Invocation of My Demon Brother is also noteworthy in Anger's filmography for its more overtly political aspect. The film seems to be offering at least a reflection on the Vietnam war, with footage from the war interspersed. The most haunting image of the film is the albino man who opens the film and resurfaces throughout, his eyes flickering strangely. Does he represent some kind of soldier figure? The weakest aspect of the film is Mick Jagger's Moog score, which is a repetitive noodling. Other versions of the film exist online with scores that seem more atmospheric and suited to the intensely psychedelic and occultic images on display. As a time capsule of late 60s era San Francisco counterculture, you can't get much better than Invocation.


8/10

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