I first became aware of Aleister Crowley through press reports that Jimmy Page of led Zeppelin, had been studying the occultist. A period of reading the books of Dennis Wheatley brought a greater awareness of the occult where Crowley's name was frequently mentioned.
This film begins with the impending death of the man whilst being visited by two students from Cambridge University (UK). Just before he dies he curses one of the students and inflicts serious injury to him. Sixty years on, at Cambridge there is a conjunction between scientific experiments in a virtual world and the continuing tradition of the occult within the confines of the University. During that conjunction, one of the dons becomes possessed by the spirit of Crowley and graduall transforms into him
The transformation presages a series of events which appear to have been predestined by Crowley and his followers many years before. The purpose of the events gradually unfolds, as they tend to do in these matters, into the return of the fallen angel.
Simon Callow, the RSC actor excels in his portrayal of the restored Crowley. His energies reflect the larger than life personality of the occultist and the notorious acts for which he was infamous during his lifetime. This is a film of graphic sexuality and bodily functions. Although there is nudity and depictions of orgies and other sexual acts, they are not exhibited except in their role as part of the magickal power. The acts are more of the means by which spells are enacted, a transference of the power of the body into other powerful forms.
Many people will find this film objectionable for a variety of reasons, the subject of the occult or satanic worship, the sexual nature and use of profanities, the rejection of christian sensibilities or for many other reasons. Nevertheless it is a powerful depiction of the life of Crowley itself. Ultimately, in the final scenes of the film, very reminiscent of the previous fim, The Devil Rides Out, the world is restored to order.
Given the difficult subject matter, I think that this film has done a first rate job in enlightening the life and works of Aleister Crowley and is to be commended for it.