Notorious Bay Area kino-renegade Craig Baldwin tops his earlier found-footage operas SPECTRES OF THE SPECTRUM and SONIC OUTLAWS with the rapid-fire pulp serial-cum-political-tract piss-take on California's major industrial complexes: military, entertainment and religious. Hitting upon everything from Satanism to Scientology, the Beats to the jets (propulsion, that is), Baldwin revs-up his characteristic stock footage reappropriations with some live-action scenes of his own, adding an over-the-top pulp flair to the proceedings. The film focuses on three seemingly disparate characters to fuel this secret history of California: Jack Parsons, inventor of solid rocket fuel, founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Aleister Crowley acolyte; Marjorie Cameron, artist, beatnik and occultist; and L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer turned Scientology founder. Rather than offering straightforward profiles, Baldwin mashes up their histories with archival footage drawn from his vast collection of educational and governmental films, subverting their original narratives (and intent) to his own purposes. His live-action scenes and audio montages blend with these "seized histories," creating a bizarre new form of cinema, a collage narrative where the documentary images of yesteryear lend not truth but poetry, paranoia and fantasy. Arising with demonic force from the twentieth century's accumulated detritus of symbols, the film surveys "the repurposing of the popular imagination in postwar California," according to Baldwin, tracing the "simultaneous rise and convergence of New Age religious cults, the military/aerospace industrial complex and modern-day myths from Disney to certain sci-fi overlords." - Jason Sanders
A radical hybrid of multiple genres, Craig Baldwin's MOCK UP ON MU cobbles together a feature-length "collage-narrative" based on (mostly) true stories of California's post-War sub-cultures of rocket pioneers, alternative religions and Beat lifestyles. Pulp-serial snippets, industrial-film imagery, and B- (and Z-) fiction clips are intercut with newly shot live-action material, powering a playful, allegorical trajectory through the now-mythic occult matrix of Jack Parsons (founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory), L. Ron Hubbard (science fiction author turned cult-leader) and Marjorie Cameron (bohemian artist and "mother of the New Age movement"). Their intertwined tales spin out into a speculative farce on the militarization of space and the corporate take-over of spiritual fulfillment and leisure-time.
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This is a movie rich with information, even for someone like me who is quite familiar with the information out there about the characters in the story. It's also speculative -- what if the real story had continued and deaths faked, time spent on the moon, etc..This fits the playful theme that unsticks us from the linear, the seamless, and lets wonder seep through the seems.
This is stitched of a patchwork of amazing clips that are dubbed over, as characters are loosely interpreted by a number of actors in different movies collaged together to create a poetic, absurdist delight.
I'm very glad this movie exists, informative, leading people, I hope, to learn more about the truth, and a good place to go for that is books by Peter Moon's press, Sky Books.
This is Craig Baldwin’s unified theory of everything for post-war America. It’s a ray gun blast of film clips pulled from drive-in movies, government training films, tv shows, Saturday matinee serials, and educational films to spin an epic tale of a cults, conspiracies, sex magik, cold warriors, mutants, black operations, and of course, secret civilizations on the Moon.
This cinematic chop suey serves up a good old-fashioned showdown between light and darkness. Technological monstrosities battle esoteric necromancers for ultimate control of outer space. It is an uneven, but ambitious narrative that moves like a stolen car driven by Neil Cassady.