Kenneth Anger, The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)

Kenneth Anger, The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)
11th January 2016 Sid

Sid says …

I was first introduced to the work of Kenneth Anger in around 1972 or 1973 in the context of a film course I’d taken as a minor option at university.  I loved his films so much that, by the mid-1980s I had acquired his entire oeuvre on video cassette.  Some of his films stand out in my mind as more memorably brilliant that other; <em>The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome</em> is one such.

… and Wikipedia says:

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome is a short 38-minute film by Kenneth Anger, filmed in 1954. Anger created two other versions of this film in 1966 and the late 1970s. According to Anger, the film takes the name “pleasure dome” from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s atmospheric poem Kubla Khan. Anger was inspired to make the film after attending a Halloween party called “Come as your Madness.” The film has gained cult film status.

Early prints of the film had sequences that were meant to be projected on three different screens. Anger subsequently re-edited the film to layer the images. The film—primarily the 2nd and 3rd revisions—was often shown in American universities and art galleries during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

The original edition soundtrack is a complete performance of Glagolitic Mass by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854–1928). In 1966, a re-edited version known as The Sacred Mushroom Edition was made available. In the late 1970s, a third revision was made, which was The Sacred Mushroom Edition re-edited to fit the Electric Light Orchestra album Eldorado, omitting only “Illusions in G Major,” a blues-rock tune which Anger felt did not fit the mood of the film.

The differences in the visuals of the 1954 original and the two revisions are minor. An early version, just shown once on German television in the early 1980s and hold until today by the NDR (Germany) includes an additional 3 minutes at the beginning, including a reading of the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The film reflects Anger’s deep interest in Thelema, the philosophy of Aleister Crowley and his followers, as indicated by Cameron’s role as “The Scarlet Woman” (an honorific Crowley bestowed on certain of his important magical partners).

The film uses some footage of the Hell sequence from the 1911 Italian silent film L’Inferno. Near the end, scenes from Anger’s earlier film Puce Moment are interpolated into the layered images and faces.

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