Underground Film Journal

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On DVD: Craig Baldwin’s Mock Up On Mu

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 6, 2009

DVD cover for Mock Up on Mu featuring the moon and the film's main characters

Craig Baldwin, the pioneer and reigning champion of “collage narrative” filmmaking, has at last released his consciousness expanding opus Mock Up on Mu on DVD via Other Cinema. The film is a delirious trek through the bowels of alternative California history as propelled by L. Ron Hubbard, Jack Parsons, Marjorie Carson and Aleister Crowley. Although based on real people and events, Mock Up on Mu is a fanciful, retro-futuristic recreation of a history that didn’t, but should and could have happened.

The real-life players: Jack Parsons was a swingin’ inventor who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and who was also a rabid follower of the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley. In addition to founding Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard was a famous sci-fi writer and good pal to Parsons. Marjorie Cameron was the woman who came between them. The relationship between the two men eventually dissolved after a bad business partnership for a boat dealing company. Parsons died in a freakish explosion at his lab in 1952, while Hubbard and and Cameron enjoyed long, separate lives.

In Mock Up on Mu, Baldwin envisions an alternate past with Hubbard, played on-screen by underground filmmaker Damon Packard, trying to build a resort on the moon called Mu. He enlists Cameron (Michelle Silva) to track down and enlist the help of an amnesiac Parsons (Kalman Spelletich), who apparently didn’t die in that explosion after all, to build a fleet of spacecraft to rocket the rich and famous to the Mu resort.

That’s actually an over-simplistic description of just the tip of the iceberg of the plot to Mock Up on Mu, which goes on more wilder and crazier tangents than is humanly possible to keep track of. Yet, somehow Baldwin blends the various strands together in a complex, but cohesive, narrative.

Baldwin describes his type of filmmaking as “collage narrative” because he blends together original footage he has shot himself with an insane assortment of found footage culled from old B and Z grade motion pictures, industrial films and actual footage recorded of Crowley. Baldwin’s original footage pays tribute to both spy and sci-fi films from the ’50s, as well as legendary underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger.

Mock Up on Mu is an astounding piece of work, produced over a five-year period. The film has been a hit on the festival circuit, both at underground and mainstream fests, for about a year and a half, so it’s about time audiences at home were afforded the pleasure of marveling at this tremendous work of genius.

You can read the original the Underground Film Journal review of Mock Up on Mu here.

Buy the film from Amazon.

Watch the trailer: