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Secrets of the Occult

Koch Vision // Unrated // March 13, 2007
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted March 24, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Care to take an hour-and-a-half cram session through the occult?

That's what Secrets of the Occult works out to be. Everyone from Pythagoras to Isaac Newton and Sigmund Freud takes some time in this blitzed documentary from Koch Vision. Even though the material is very, very rushed, the content just might be catching enough for both new and old researchers of shunned, archaic ways of thought. Those with no prior knowledge of these great thinkers will have a full universe opend to them; in contrast, those who have built a basis of knowledge of these greats might find this chronological bullet-point production a worthy reference piece.

The Film:

The occult, as implied from the overall demeanor of this production, is the practice, implementation, and research of all undeveloped topics that are shunned and condemned by society. Many might equate the term with a belief in ultra spiritual and paranormal beliefs, such as the existence of spectral beings or magical healing. Others might piece together that occultism is potently anti-theological. Secrets of the Occult has broken down and addressed much of this connotation and systematically introduced the occult as anything beyond the norm.

This occultist body of knowledge is fragmented into two differing genres, which equates for the program's segmented portions: The Magicians (those who practice the alternatives) and the Scientists (those who research the alternatives). Each segment is a little over fourty-five minutes in length and appears on this disc as separate options instead of a sole adhesive production. Staged clips of the time periods in which these scientists achieved their greatness are spliced in between professional commentary from medical doctors, as well as occult practitioners and researchers.


The Magicians

Much of occultism's practices have taken on a new, more freely accepted label. New Age practices can be seen widespread throughout the commonplace world, even spanning within the local bookstores in their own segmented shelves. This first portion of Secrets of the Occult tackles the practitioners and their practices of such occultist dogmas, such as gazing into crystal balls, working with tarot cards, and the fabric of astrology. Numerous renowned names will surface in this portion, ranging as far back as Pythagoras himself and the seeming "creation" of occultist assemblies. However, many of these names will more than likely be foreign. It's a world of séances, scrying, alchemy, and spiritual whimsy that has developed to quite an art.

The break-neck pacing through many a century in the Magicians portion of Secrets of the Occult can be a shade on the blinding side. As interesting as this material can be, the repeated dancing from subject to subject is rather dizzying. Though quick, it's still fairly engaging. Learning about the historical practitioners of séances and the usage of scrying is rather compelling. Also, the history of Aleister Crowley and his control over people can be pretty intriguing as well. Introduction to the magicians of the cult in such a brief time period is a daunting task that is marginally successful. There is a great amount of room for expansion, even though this is a positive undertaking.

The Scientists

At a slightly less frenetic pace, the Scientists portion of Secrets of the Occult addresses many of the modern geniuses that are highly regarded to this day. In fact, when it comes to the study of topics not in alignment with society's current beliefs, most pioneers end up delving into the world of the occult. That's quite obvious reflecting on the works of Galileo, Isaac Newton, and sociologists / psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. To confront the studies of magnetism, gravitational pull, and the complex nature of sexual repression and misconstrued psychoses is a foreboding task for any scientist. Each of these brilliant intellects had to cross the boundaries of all things normal to accomplish what they did. Once more, they had to challenge the beliefs of their preceding trailblazers to update and develop these concepts.

Though following a similar flow of narrative with similar pacing, this portion of Secrets of the Occult is much smoother in context for some reason. It's probably because the names and concepts are more familiar in this section half. Still, this segment is still attempting to cover the phenomenally complex endeavors of history's greatest minds in under an hour. It succeeds quite well, however, in stringing together all of the concepts, the shared pressures, and the reflective attempts at a constructing body of knowledge throughout these scientists' highly driven periods.


Secrets of the Occult could have easily been a three or four hour project. Instead of opting for comprehensiveness, this production aims to capture the quick, sporadic interest of a casual viewing. In that respect, it achieves a vast amount within a condensed time frame. This documentary is an inclusive, engaging expositional synopsis of alternative thought and practice.

The DVD:

Koch Vision presents Secrets of the Occult in a standard keepcase with similar discart. A Koch Vision promotional booklet is included with the package.

The Video:

Secrets of the Occult is presented in a widescreen presentation that is wholly serviceable. Amidst the key element of this film, which is the dialogue from the professionals and narrator John Curran, the picture does nicely. Detail in the faces of the professionals were sharp and clean, while the colors in the backdrops and within the clips were solid. It was a fairly grainy transfer, though. Nothing fantastic, but the image definitely serves the purpose.

The Audio:

Presented in Dolby 2.0, the sound fairs about as well as expected. The dialogue is rich, clean and very audible. Never is any of the speaker's voices muffled or hard to understand. Music and ambient sounds are few and far between; however, the few transitional sound effects were fine.

The Extras: Aside from a Trailer, there's only one extra, but it's an essential one. Other than a preview trailer, this is a Behind The Scenes Featurette that's worth watching before the picture starts. This featurette takes the time for each of the speakers to explain what their interpretations of the occult truly are. Most of the program reflects on their knowledge of their focused subjects. However, never are clear definitions given much meat in the production. This featurette fleshes out the core material of "the occult" through the eyes of researchers and followers, and works as a great set-up companion for the rest of the material.


Final Thoughts:

Delving into the world of the occult is merely a trip into the vast unknown. It's not a scary ride, as some might be inclined to believe. To learn about the achievements of occult "magicians" and scientists is to learn about the groundbreaking and, at times, stagnant attempts to further humanity's base of knowledge. Secrets of the Occult takes on a immensive task in presenting the material very briefly, and does so quite well. Informative and engaging, this piece would have been more than welcome to stay much longer to explain all the ideas swirling around. However, Secrets of the Occult still comes easily Recommended to anyone wishing to dive into the endless pool of the unknown, whether it be fresh viewers just wanting to know a bit more or veterans wanting to enjoy a quick chronological overview.

Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site
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