In search of the great beast 666 is a unique documentary / movie style educational film that details the life of Aliester Crowley, the great magician of the new dawn. This is a very unique documentary shot in an extraordinary way.
Aleister Crowley, self proclaimed “The Great Beast” and known by the press as “The Wickedest Man in the World”, was perhaps the most controversial and notorious individuals in British History. This dramatically reconstructed film unearths the barely believable and shocking facts surrounding a man who was voted in a BBC poll to be one of the most influential Britons of all time. Was he related to US President George Bush? How was he connected to the founder of Scientology, NASA, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jack the Ripper, Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming and how did this Occultist, Spy, Poet, Writer and accomplished Mountaineer come to know and influence so many other remarkable people?
The documentary itself, directed by Robert Garofalo, is presented in 16:9 widescreen, PAL Region 0 and with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Again, all very nice and professional. Garofalo, by the way, isn’t new to this sort of thing: he’s an accomplished director focusing on music performances including, interestingly enough, ‘Rick Wakeman: Live in Buenos Aires’. The “Special Features” advertised on the site do not appear on the DVD in order to “ensure maximum sound and visual quality in the transfer”: the viewer is directed to the website although, at the time of writing, there’s little there beyond mouse-mat and T-shirt merchandising and a couple of trailers.
Stand-out “reconstructions” are provided by a delightful 1940s Crowley (sensitively portrayed by Thomas Bewley), Allen Bennett (Neil Charnaud) and Rose Kelly (played with touching simplicity by Heather Darcy). Where this approach is less successful is where pronunciations vary (there are multiple versions of Crowley, Boleskine and Cefalu, for example) and some of the props seem a little anachronistic. And the less said about the performances of those portraying Bishop and Hirsig, the better. But these are trivial complaints. Another, rather more serious concern, is that it’s not always clear which images are “authentic”. Characters appear on-screen in apparently aged photographs, only for the same faces to appear in the guise of actors. Likewise, streets and rooms appear with nothing to indicate whether they are actual photographs of the places described or representative ‘library’ images. Given the documentary’s fondness for Photoshop masking of cracked and peeling plaster over most of the still image rostrum work, this becomes occasionally confusing and content is sometimes obscured unnecessarily.