The Wickedest Man in the world, or the most deluded, yet brilliant, self-publicist in the world?
Although this documentary will not provide any answers, and it doesn’t dig particularly deep into the psyche of one of the most intriguing individuals in recent history, it is a comprehensive look at the life of ‘The Great Beast’ and covers every aspect of his life – from start to finish, both good and bad. This thorough documentary will prove be a perfect jumping off point for anyone with an interest in Crowley – giving plenty of examples of his own writings, and the writings of others about him.
Unlike previous attempts to cover the infamous author and occultist’s life, there are no attempts here at comment or sensationalism. The facts are delivered in a sombre tone by Joss Ackland, while actors occasionally appear as talking heads for Crowley, his family and acquaintances (it’s hard to say if any of the people who wandered into his life could ever be truly classed as ‘friends’.)
Still photographs of Crowley and his various connections are a major part of this production, and are used in slow sepia-toned close-ups, which works surprisingly well. A large part of the success of the documentary as a whole is down to Rick Wakeman who produced the music used throughout. Interestingly (though slightly off-topic) Wakeman released a statement explaining how his involvement with the Crowley project in no way compromises his status as a committed Christian.
Aleister Crowley – The Wickedest Man In The World makes one thing obvious though, to even though most easily-led of viewers; were Crowley alive today, he would be little more than Pete Doherty-esque tabloid fodder, someone to roll out on a slow news day because they’re always good for an outrageous statement. A grown man still acting like a teenage boy, he would, almost certainly, be a Juggalo.
With his penchant for various grand-sounding titles, Crowley himself would surely be pleased with the documentary’s unnecessarily long full title of Aleister Crowley – The Wickedest Man In The World – In Search Of The Great Beast 666.
However, an interesting subject twinned with smart pacing and strong production means that this is definitely worth a watch.