Features & Columns

Mystery Movie

At last, local audiences can see Antero Alli's To Dream of Falling Upwards,
a study in esoteric conflict
HORNS OF A DILEMMA: Two mystical figures vie for supremacyin Antero Alli's 'To Dream of Falling Upwards.'

TWENTY-TWO YEARS ago, as an aspiring anti-man-about-town, I amassed quite a collection of esoteric reading material, including blasphemous "occult" paperbacks by Christopher S. Hyatt of New Falcon Publications.

I was still living at home and since my mother was a career librarian and adamantly opposed to the censorship of books, she allowed such material to exist on my shelf. I never practiced any of the taboo exercises contained in those books, but Hyatt wrote with a heretical sense of humor that fired my curiosity.

Later in 1997, while wasting away at a tech-support job at SJSU, I talked with a high-tech recruiter who said he actually knew Christopher Hyatt. The recruiter claimed that more occultists existed in the software industry than in any other profession, which I thought was hysterical. Fortunately or unfortunately, I never went on to a job in that field.

Little did I know that in 2011 Antero Alli, one of Hyatt's old pals and co-authors, would emerge in San Jose to screen his film, To Dream of Falling Upwards, which runs at Anno Domini this Friday. For me, it feels like a rip-roaring trinity of some sort is finally being connected.

The film satirizes everything about ridiculous power-hungry occultists. In the opening scene, we witness austere ritual magickians, entirely in their humorless element, with black ties and cheap, white dress shirts. They reminded me of the stuffy fascist creeps from the Pasolini flick, Saló, or the 120 Days of Sodom.

We see the elder Magus of the Thelemic Temple of Horus (Arden Schaeffer), who lies dying. His mental and physical conditions are such that he cannot vend for himself. The lead character, an austere young magus named Jack Mason (James Wagner), has been cultivated for years to advance the lineage of the temple should the Elder Magus pass away. Unfortunately for Jack, he loses out when the elder Magus' biological son (Duncan Cook) unexpectedly shows up at the deathbed and tricks the elder Magus into signing away the entire temple to him instead.

Such is the foundation for the rest of the film. Jack plots deadly revenge against the biological son and soon falls into a dizzying maze of underworld encounters as a result. Meanwhile, Jack's own aspiring apprentices (Jasper Patterson and Brian Livingston) provide a cryptic backstory via their hilarious performances of the classic fairy tale, "Jack and the Beanstalk."

However strange, the foundation of the narrative, to me, does not seem exclusive to this film. In fact, it curiously parallels a similar situation currently buried in the courts. In that sense, I feel a little digression is necessary.

As I perceive it, an analogous legal spat now taking place between New Falcon Publications and The Original Falcon Press might possibly have provided source material for the fictitious scene in the film. Christopher S. Hyatt, head honcho of New Falcon, just passed away a few years ago. After multiple strokes, he was incapacitated and eventually released to his wife's care. His compadre at New Falcon, Nick Tharcher, claims that Hyatt undisputedly left the business to him. However, Hyatt's biological son, Michael Miller, claims to be the appointed successor, based on a document Hyatt allegedly signed.

Thus, Miller is now legally in charge of New Falcon, while Tharcher has decided to revamp the business and carry on as "The Original Falcon Press." He apparently has legal rights to maintain and sell parts of the inventory. The situation is currently unresolved and tied up in a heated court battle, but the details are spilled on a few different blogs.

Regardless of what verdict comes down, and regardless of whether or not the situation serveed as creative inspiration for To Dream of Falling Upwards, the film's manifestation at Anno Domini is welcome news in San Jose. I am blessed that my mom was a librarian, and I'm lucky she never confiscated Hyatt's books from my shelf. Long live the original falcon and may it continue to soar upwards.

To Dream of Falling Upwards

Rated R; 120 min.

Anno Domini

Friday, April 22, 7pm