Home Interior Design Remembering the late experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger through 6 of his most fantastically transgressive works

Remembering the late experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger through 6 of his most fantastically transgressive works

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Kenneth Anger, the experimental filmmaker and author whose work galvanized avant-garde cinema, has died, reported his gallery, Sprüth Magers. He was 96 years old.

“Kenneth was a trailblazer,” read a statement from the gallery, which began representing Anger in 2009. “His cinematic genius and influence will continue to transform all who encounter his films, his words and his vision.”

Born Kenneth Wilbur Anglemyer in Santa Monica in 1927, Anger began creating 16mm films as a teenager, marrying his burgeoning interests in underground cinema and the occult with his awakened sexuality. At the age of 20, Anger had been tried for obscenity for his homoerotic short film Fireworks (1947), receiving, with his acquittal, a reputation as enfant terrible.

Kenneth Anger in Los Angeles, California, 1955. Photo: Estate of Edmund Teske/Getty Images.

It was a label that Anger proudly wore throughout his creative career in which he continued to bottle his diabolical visions into films, especially those in his so-called Magick Lantern Cycle, which tested and burned the boundaries. of mainstream property. “My dreams are big budget” he said in 2014“and my films are low-budget.”

The anger has also come close to Hollywood, in its own way. His 1965 book, Hollywood Babylon, sordidly detailed (and sometimes fabricated) scandals that plagued Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Jean Harlow. It was banned until its republication in 1975. Anger followed it with Hollywood Babylon II in 1984 and teased a Hollywood Babylon IIIwho he said was on hold because he feared a lawsuit from Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology.

by Kenneth Anger The inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) at Art Basel, 2015. Photo: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images.

For an artist with a relatively small filmography, Anger left an inordinate imprint on cult cinema and beyond. His works combined prismatic visuals with a pop soundtrack in a way that presaged the music video, while his queer narratives offered an enduring visual language for today’s pop culture. In the 21st century, Anger’s countercultural works have gained recognition in the form of documentaries, DVD reissues, and museum showcases, including a major retrospective at MoMA PS1 in 2009.

In tribute to the late iconoclast, here are six of his essential works.

Fireworks (1947)

The film Anger made a name for himself on saw him play a ‘dreamer’ who is attacked by a group of sailors on a cruise – a premise inspired by a scene the filmmaker witnessed during the riots Zoot Suit from 1944. Filmed in black and white and without sound, Fireworks encapsulates the homoeroticism, surrealism and fearlessness that would inform his later work.

“It’s easy to be cheeky when you’re 17” he said in 2007, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the film“and know what you want to do and can barely afford to do it.”

Inauguration of the Dome of Pleasure (1954)

The occultism of anger flourished in this film, which is light on plot but heavy on lavish, hallucinatory visuals. Bulk, A temple of pleasure brings together a cast of mythical characters, from Pan to Aphrodite via Ascarte (embodied by a resplendent Anaïs Nin), who find themselves in a bacchanalia supervised by the Great Beast himself. Wrath raided actor Samson de Brier’s closet for the film’s jaw-dropping costumes, then used double exposure and a quick cut to its psychedelic climax.

Scorpio Rise (1963)

Perhaps Anger’s most influential work, Scorpio Rise depicts the violent hijackings of a motorcycle gang, but again, it was the filmmaker’s stylistic choices that earned the short a spot in the National Film Registry. Its romantic framing made leather and motorbikes a fetish, while its rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack celebrated rebellion. The latter was particularly inspiring for a certain Martin Scorsese, who said Scorpio Rise “gave me the idea to use the music I really needed.”

Summon My Demon Brother (1969)

From the late 1960s, Anger’s output would increasingly reflect not only his growing interest in dark magic, but also the disillusionment of a post-Manson age, which also gave rise to the counter- culture. Invocation embodies this change, bringing to life a Midnight Mass (attended by Lucifer, played by Manson Family member Bobby Beausoleil) with double exposures, giallo-esque lighting, and a rhythmic soundtrack provided by Mick Jagger. Hypnotically edited, it also incorporates found footage and Anger’s prized motifs, including the Hell’s Angels and the Eye of Horus.

Lucifer Ascendant (1972)

Anger’s longtime visual homage to Aleister Crowley’s poem Hymn to Lucifer is perhaps his most formally conventional work – recounting the invocation of the dark lord by the Egyptian gods – not that it is not replete with his obscure symbolism. It also stars Marianne Faithfull and was partially filmed on location in Egypt, for which Anger managed to get clearance claiming he was “make a documentary.” Today, the film is remembered for sparking the complicated, years-long feud between Anger and Beausoleil (who composed his soundtrack from prison) over footage said to be either lost Or stolendepending on who you asked.

Don’t smoke this cigarette! (2000)

Lucifer Ascendant pretty much ended Anger’s most creative and fertile period. He kept a low profile for two decades, releasing only Hollywood Babylon II when he needed the money, before returning to acting in 2000 with Don’t smoke this cigarette! None of its esoteric characteristics are here; instead, the work is a collage of cigarette advertisements intended to extol the merits of not smoking – a style of editing that Anger would adopt for his films of the latter days, which were lukewarmly received. It’s a low-key way to end a transgressive career, but perhaps the last thing to subvert was our expectations.

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