Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Wormwood Star (1956)

This dramatic short film is a dark and beautiful portrait of the occultist, artist, poet and bohemian Marjorie Cameron (1922-1995). Cameron was married to Jack Parsons until his death in 1952. Jack Parsons was a rocket scientist who had been a founding member of the JPL and who was also a devout follower of the new religious movement founded by English occultist Aleister Crowley in 1904, Thelema. Parsons was the head of the Agape Lodge, a branch of the Thelemite Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO).

Marjorie Cameron

From Dangerous Minds
Curtis Harrington told Cameron biographer Spencer Kansa in his book, Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron
"Before I made the film I’d heard from Renate [referring here to painter Renate Druks] that Cameron had spent some time in the desert trying, through magical means, to conceive a child by the spirit of Jack Parsons without success.  Cameron never spoke of Jack directly, but I do remember feeling sometimes when I talked to her, of her going off into a realm that I didn’t understand at all. It was sort of an apocalyptic thing and it’s there in her poetry."
What you should know as you watch this is that the vast majority of Marjorie Cameron’s paintings were destroyed by her—burned—in an act of ritualized suicide. There are very few pieces by Cameron that have survived—a few paintings and some sketches—and The Wormwood Star is the only record of most of them (outside of the astral plane, natch. What does survive of her estate is represented by longtime New York gallerist Nicole Klagsbrun). Cameron has long been a figure of fascination for many people and I think I can say with confidence that this film meets or even far exceeds any expectations you might have for it.

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