Movies We Like
The Films of Kenneth Anger, Vol. I
Wordless imagery, saturated colors, avant-garde, myth-ridden – a few of a handful of terms to describe Kenneth Anger’s short films. His work is dazzling, surreal, and certainly a hallmark that pioneered the very language of music videos.
Prior to this UCLA Film Archive high definition digital transfer, these early films of Anger were difficult to view. This collection of work is only a part of his work; several others can be found in Volume II. Here, we have his early works, Fireworks, Puce Moment, Rabbit’s Moon, Eaux d’Artifice, and Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, each savory in magical moments, imagination, rituals, and pop-song splendor.
In each short film we enter a world unique in their own ways. Fireworks is gay cinema’s first monumental work, where a dream lies within a dream. The dissatisfied dreamer, played by Anger, is seventeen, and he embarks on a sexual journey with American sailors and returns to bed “less empty than before.” The beautiful 16mm black and white imagery compliments the trance-like structure, and its homage to Jean Cocteau’s baroque style and themes of social repression of sexuality place the film in the radical post-war American avant-garde.
Puce Moment contains one of the best opening sequences I have ever seen and, if anything, watch the gorgeous film for its fantastic colors and endearing actress, Yvonne Marquis, who captures the screen without having to say a word in this Hollywood silent era-inspired film.
Rabbit’s Moon is one of those 1950s pop song ridden (featuring Doo-Wop artists The Capris, The Dells, The Flamingos) fables that involve a mime and his autobiographical yearnings for the moon’s mystery. Surely you cannot miss the blue lunar mystique that references Anger’s involvement with the CinÃ©mathÃ©que FranÃ§aise.
Eaux d’Artifice follows the Water Witch wandering through the labyrinth of fountains and gardens of the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy. Follow her journey where the Water Witch and the Fountain become One.
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome is where the Magician, Whore of Heaven, Astarte of the Moon, Hecate, and Lady Kali dwell and where the mushrooms, yagÃ©, grapes of Bacchus, wings of snow all exist.
I leave you with my last words: Thou shall enter the mesmerizing and enchanting cinema of Kenneth Anger.