Scorpio Rising: A Prelude to the Music Video

Scorpio Rising is a 1963 experimental film staring Bruce Byron as Scorpio, who appears to be the leader of a Nazi-like biker gang.

One of the things I found noteworthy while watching this film is how it appears to be a prelude to music videos. There are various songs dispersed throughout the film that correspond to the images on the screen. To me, the songs cut up the film and tell separate, yet interconnected stories and touch on different themes, whether it be longing, love, rejection, rebellion, or torture. To the best of my knowledge, music videos weren’t big until the 80s, so to see this style in a film from the 60s was very interesting. It really shows how elements of past film culture can be incorporated into modern day film and art. I have included a clip that shows this below, where some of the “Jesus imagery” begins in the film. You can see that as the song talks about “the way he shuffles his feet” and “how he goes walking by”, we see the biker’s feet moving along with crosscutting to sequences that feature Jesus walking. There are many connections between the words of the  song and the images on screen that give it a music video feel.

Below, I have linked an article from the website “Senses of Cinema”, which touches on the music video aspect of Scorpio Rising and also does a great job of analyzing the film in more depth. I think it’s worth a read as it analyzes the film without being too subjective, allowing the viewer to still draw their own conclusions.

Article 1 “Senses of Cinema”: http://sensesofcinema.com/2015/cteq/scorpio-rising/

I also found another article that I think is really helpful in dissecting the film, linked here: https://walkerart.org/magazine/a-listeners-guide-to-kenneth-angers-scorpio-rising.  It features each of the songs used in the film and goes over some common themes of the songs and how they were relevant to the film. The author of the article also points out that all of the songs in the film are love songs. I definitely noticed this about the film, but didn’t realize that EVERY one of the songs was a love song. The use of love songs over imagery of hate, rebellion, and crime is a very ironic parallel and it almost makes the events taking place on screen seem less severe. For example, at one point in the film, there is a lot of Nazi imagery, but playing along with the imagery is a song about love. What do you make of this combination?

 

 

1 comment
  1. I think considering Scorpio Rising as a music video is completely logical. I felt like I was watching a compilation of music videos for old songs that I know but don’t have any particular visual associations with. I thought it was really fun, albeit a bit strange at some points. What I think is interesting, though, is that when I was watching Dog Star Man, since it was a silent film, I was left to my own devices in terms of what sounds I imagined to go with it. I immediately began singing different songs in my head as the film played on. This makes me wonder if there’s something to be said more about experimental film as a whole being “music video”-esque.

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