Antero Alli’s ‘To Dream of Falling Upwards’

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I’ve been looking forward to Antero Alli’s new film for a while now. His last flick – The Invisble Forest – was an exploration of psychology, surrealism, and the theatric method, filmed on multiple types of camera to throw the viewer into altered states throughout it’s viewing.

Alli’s latest offering – To Dream of Falling Upwards – has a more linear narrative approach than it’s predecessor. Not that it doesn’t take the viewer through a surreal minefield of visuals and expositions, it just happens to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. But enough of the comparisons, lets talk about the story.

A sex-magickian – Jack Mason – is the next in line to become the new head magus of  the Temple of Horus, a offshoot of its more official – OTO-like – sister the ‘Thelemic Temple of Anubis’. However, just as he is about to claim his leadership, the current Temple-Master’s son intervenes at his fathers death-bed, and claims the commercial rights to the order. Mason discovers that the son is planning to commercialise the order, and so begins a tale of murder, mysticism, sex, and comedy.

Along the way we meet some intriguing characters: A professor seeking mystical wisdom from a shamanic witch in the Californian desert, a Russian hit-man, lawyers with a fetish for S&M, and Mason’s Scarlet Lady (played by the Invisible Forest’s Clody Cates).

What is interesting about Alli’s approach to making a film about ‘occultists’ is, rather than dwelling too heavily on the ‘scandalous’ elements of the craft, he has instead chosen to highlight the more social aspects of being an occultist, drawing on the comparison of urban ritual, and rural. This is highlighted most clearly in his ‘Neophyte’ characters, two Thelamites of lower grades who are tasked with the ego-corrosive ritual of going into business together as clowns, and the professor seeking wisdom in the desert.

The film itself leaves you feeling somewhat transformed at the end. Ideas, normally communicated in text, are rendered visually to great effect. I don’t want to ruin any plot points, but Mason’s journey is particularly interesting, it’s final outcome both surprising, and impressively told.

Like The Invisible Forest, this film also has great music, provided by the fantastic Sylvia Alli. The compositions’ haunting and ethereal qualities help carry the viewer along the path of the film, whilst perfectly accompanying the narrative flow.

To Dream of Falling Upwards is Antero Alli’s most accessible film to date, both visually, and narratively. If you want to go on a mystical journey tinged with Crowleyana, humour, intrigue, and Carlos Castaneda, but don’t want the usual Kenneth Anger rip-offs, this film will serve you extremely well.

Ken Eakins

If you’re in the San Francisco area tomorrow – Antero Alli will be premiering the film at the A.T.A. – Details here

If you can’t make the screening, or the upcoming tour, then you can buy the DVD here

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