The Liberation of Mannique Mechanique

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Steven Arnold’s first film is a 14-minute fantasia made four years before his debut feature, Luminous Procuress (1971). Like many underground films, The Liberation of Mannique Mechanique is essentially a home movie in which the director’s friends have been encouraged to perform for the camera, but Arnold’s creative personality is strong enough to surmount any production limitations. All the Arnold hallmarks are present: masks, mirrors, reflective objects, baubles, beads, and so on; among the cast is Beat poet Ruth Weiss who also appears in Luminous Procuress. I compared Arnold’s feature to Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, and it’s Kenneth Anger’s Bacchanal that comes to mind again here. Where Anger scored his film with Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass, Arnold has an equally bombastic soundtrack that sounds like music from a sword-and-sandal epic. Arnold lacks Anger’s rigorous approach to montage but the general atmosphere is enough to make this seem like one of Anger’s lost films. Watch it here.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Luminous Procuress
Juliet of the Spirits
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome: The Eldorado Edition
Flamboyant excess: the art of Steven Arnold
The Tale of Giulietta

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