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Avant-Garde Filmmaker
Born 1930. California


Selected Filmography
  • Who Has Been Rocking My Dream Boat? (1941, 11 minutes) [First film]

  • Fireworks (1947, 15 minutes)

  • Puce Moment (1949, 7 minutes)

  • Rabbit's Moon (1950, 15 minutes)

  • Eaux D'Artifice (1953, 13 minutes)

  • Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954-1966, 38 minutes)

  • Scorpio Rising (1963, 29 minutes)

  • Kustom Kar Kommando (1965, 3.5 minutes)

  • Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969, 11 minutes)

  • Lucifer Rising, Part 1 (1974, 25 minutes)

  • Lucifer Rising, Part 2 (1976, 30 minutes)

Selected Bibliography
  • Anger, Kenneth. Hollywood Babylon. (originally published in France by J.J. Pauvert, Paris. 1959)

  • Cornwell, Regina. "On Kenneth Anger." December, Volume X, No.1. Western Springs, Illinois. 1968.

  • DeBrier, Samson. "On the Filming of The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome". Film Culture, No. 67-69. New York. 1979.

  • Rayns, Tony. "Lucifer: A Kenneth Anger Kompendium." Cinema, No. 4. London. 1969.

  • Sitney, P.Adams. "Kenneth Anger." The American Independent Film. Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Boston. 1971.

Kenneth Anger-Official Cosmic Record

1985	Beasts		2b	.252	607	153	14	67
1986	Beasts		2b	.240	628	151	34	105
1987	Beasts		2b	.243	605	147	41	94
1988	Beasts		2b	.276	366	101	0	33
1989	Beasts		2b	.298	352	105	0	29
1990	Beasts		2b	.204	632	129	31	91
1991	Beasts		2b	.291	357	104	0	24
1992	Beasts		2b	.312	263	82	6	35
1993	Beasts		2b	.221	615	136	28	93
1994	Beasts		2b	.190	610	116	22	86
1995	Beasts		2b	.200	5	1	1	1
1996	Beasts		2b	.266	571	152	41	98
1997	Poetics		2b	.274	369	101	15	61
1998	Poetics		2b	.226	412	93	6	28

Total 14 Seasons		.246	6392	1571	239	845

Related External Links

First Film Fireworks Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome Autobiodata
Sitney Rowe Essential Cinema Top Menu

My films are primarily concerned with sexuality in people. My reason for filming has nothing to do with "cinema" at all; it's a transparent excuse for capturing people, the equivalent of saying "Come up and see my etchings"

I have always considered movies evil; the day that cinema was invented was a black day for mankind. Centuries before photographs there were talismans, which actually anticipated photographs...Photography is a blatant attempt to steal the soul.

The astral body is always just latent in a person, and certain cunning and gifted photographers can take an image of the astral body. The whole thing is having an image of someone to control them. If you're out of your mind with love it becomes understandable. Any crime is justifiable in the name of Love. In fact, it shouldn't have to be a 'crime': Anything is justifiable in the name of Love.

Kenneth Anger was born in 1930 in Southern California in the land of Hollywood.. Intoxicated by the air of "tinsel town" admixed with a passion for the occult, Anger's films deal with ritual magick themes. Since he grew up near the center of American movie production (the dream factories) it is not entirely surprising that by the age of eleven he was making films.

Anger, child of Hollywood, and so familiar with dream reality, makes films that support the preeminence of imagination. And in his films, the "dream" is the metaphor used for human imagination. P. Adams Sitney, one of the most articulate observers of experimental film in general and the New American Cinema in particular writes in his history of the movement, Visionary Film, that "the recurrent theme of the American avant-garde film is the triumph of the imagination. Nowhere is this clearer than in the films of Anger."

First Film

Who Has Been Rocking My Dreamboat (1941)
7 minutes.
16mm. Black & White. Silent.
Filmed in Santa Monica, California

  • Anger was 11 years old when he made this film.

From Anger's synopsis of the film:

A montage of American children at play, drifting, dreaming, in the last summer before Pearl Harbor. Flash cuts of newsreel holocaust dart across their reverie. Fog invades the playground; the children dropping in mock death to make a misty landscape of dreamers.

  • From this first early effort the linking of film and dream is apparent. Anger will use the dream metaphor to describe many of his films. The dream space permits the artist to use imagination as a corrective to reality.


Fireworks (1947)

15 minutes
16mm. Black & White
Soundtrack by Respighi
Filmed in Hollywood.

  • Anger was 17 years old when he made this film. It is one of eight Anger films selected by Anthology Film Archives as an "essential" work of the art of cinema.

From Anger's synopsis of the film:

A dissatisfied dreamer awakes, goes out in the night seeking a 'light' and is drawn through the needle's eye. A dream of a dream, he returns to a bed less empty than before.

  • Anger would later reflect on this film and say, "This flick is all I have to say about being seventeen, the United States Navy, American Christmas, and the Fourth of July."


Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954-1966)

38 minutes
16mm. Color (Ektachrome 7387)
Soundtrack: Janacek, Glagolithic Mass
Filmed at Samson DeBrier's home in Hollywood, "and another place."

In 1954, after four years in France, Anger returned to California and made the film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. The title of the film comes from the poem "Kublai Khan" by the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge claimed that the poem came to him during an opium dream. The poem tells the story of the Mongol general and statesman who built a pleasure dome. The film. subtitled "Lord Shiva's Dream" is a complex meditation of ideas that Anger absorbed from his interest in the occultist Aleister Crowley.


P. Adams Sitney

from Visionary Film
In Anger's films his image of himself, of the self, is as a Magus, never as a film-maker. He continues the tradition of Jean Cocteau, a film-maker dear to him, who in Le Sang d'un Poete first made the aesthetic quest legitimate as a subject for cinema...Anger and other American avant-garde film-makers took from Cocteau both his fascination with the traditional means of art-- poetry, music, sculpture-- as opposed to cinema itself and his fusion of the aesthetic and the erotic quests...For Anger the aesthetic endeavor is a category of magick. [pages 133-134]

Sitney devotes an entire chapter in Visionary Film to Anger (Chapter 4- The Magus.) Anger is a pioneer of American avant-garde film and its chief Magician. Sitney calls Anger's film Fireworks a "pure example of the psycho-dramatic trance film" in which the filmmaker seeks revelation. Sitney calls the opening sequence of Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome "one of Anger's finest cinematic achievements." He calls Inauguration a "mythographic film in its aspiration to visualize a plurality of gods" and therefore its theme is consistent with the "primary romantic myth of the fall of a unitary Man" into a multiplicity of fragments. Scorpio Rising is also a mythographic film but, according to Sitney, instead of engaging in the "visionary search for the self, as he had in Inauguration" Anger creates an "erotic version of the contraries of the self." Like other American avant-garde film-makers, Anger's aesthetic evolution is from the trance film to the mythopoeic film. "Both forms assert the primacy of the imagination, the first through dream, the second through ritual and myth."


Carel Rowe

from "Illuminating Lucifer" in The Avant-Garde Film: A Reader of Theory and Criticism
Anger, a romanticist, sees occultism as a source of hermetic knowledge. For Anger, "Making a movie is casting a spell." He claims "Magick" as his lifework and "the cinematograph" for his "Magick weapon." He dubs the collection of his works "The Magick Lantern Cycle," has adopted Aleister Crowley as his guru, sees his films to be "a search for light and enlightenment...As a prestidigitator Anger somewhat parallels Melies: a magician making transformations as well as reconstructions of reality...As a visionary Anger creates his own frame of reference which is an extension of the vision and teachings of Aleister Crowley. [pages 111-112]


Essential Cinema

When Anthology Film Archives first opened on December 1, 1970 it was described by its founders as the "first film museum exclusively devoted to the film as an art. "The art of cinema surfaces primarily when it divests itself of commercial norms." A group of five individuals who "[did] not represent a single school of taste or thought" selected those films which best represent film as an art form. The Film Selection Committee included: James Broughton, Ken Kelman, Peter Kubelka, Jonas Mekas and P. Adams Sitney.

The following eight works by Anger were selected as "essential works of the art of cinema" by the Film Selection Committee:

  • Fireworks, 1947
  • Puce Moment, 1949-1970
  • Eaux D'Artifice, 1953
  • Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, 1954-1966
  • Scorpio Rising, 1963
  • Kustom Kar Kommando, 1965
  • Invocation of My Demon Brother, 1969
  • Rabbit's Moon, 1950-1970



Anger provided the following autobiographical details in a booklet that accompanied a showing of his work at the Film-Makers Cinematheque in New York, 1966:
Sun Sign: Aquarian
Rising Sign: Scorpio
Ruling Planet: Uranus

Energy Component: Mars in Taurus
Type: Fixed Air

Lifework: Magick
Magical Weapon: Cinematograph

Religion: Thelemite
Deity: Horus the Avenger, The Crowned and Conquering Child

Magical Motto: "Force and Fire"
Holy Guardian Angel: MI-CA-EL
Affinity: Geburah
Familiar: Mongoose
Antipathy: Saturn and all His Works

Characteristic: Left-handed fanatic craftsman

Politics: Reunion with England

Hobbies: Hexing enemies; tap dancing; Astral projection; travel; talisman manufacture; Astrology; Tarot Cards; Collage

Heroes: Flash Gordon; Lautreamont; William Beckford; Melies; Alfred C. Kinsey; Aleister Crowley

Library: Big Little Books; L. Frank Baum; M.P. Shiel; Aleister Crowley

Sightings: Several saucers, the most recent a lode-craft over Hayes and Harlington, England, February 1966

Ambitions: Many, many, many more fils, Space travel

Magical Numbers: 11, 31, 93.


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Updated: May 12, 2000
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