Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Scorpio Rising

"Scorpio Rising was denounced — and this was ironic — at its first screenings by some members of the American Nazi Party. They thought I was insulting their flag, which was very true, not that you see very much of it. They phoned up anonymously to the vice squad in LA and denounced it as porn or obscene or something and in those days in '64 the police had to investigate if they got a complaint. They went there and without even watching the film, they just seized it and the poor manager of the theatre was arrested and had to be bailed out. But then it went to the California Supreme Court and a famous ruling came down which applied to all films: if it has redeeming social merit then it's acceptable, and of course this label has been used for all kinds of things."

"And from Christians? You used images of Jesus as well as Nazi flags."

"I once used clips from a Lutheran Sunday School film called The Last Journey to Jerusalem. It was delivered to me accidentally while I was cutting Scorpio Rising and left on my doorstep because of a mistaken address and I just kept it and cut it into my film. It was serendipity from the 'other' powers or what ever you want to call them, not necessarily the gods but maybe the prankster gods. After the film was shown all around the country, I got a letter from the Lutherans — "Aren't you using our Sunday school film?" — and I said "Yes, it's called 'fair use'" and said, "You should be ashamed of showing this kind of cliche stuff to children. Showing a simpering Jesus is not really helpful". So much of the iconography of Christianity has become so sanitised that you wonder, who was this person way back when?"

The Quietus interview Kenneth Anger.