Inauguration of the Dôme des Plaisirs
American filmmaker Kenneth Anger was one of the most influential figures in the evolution of experimental cinema during the 20th century. Anger infused his works with a revolutionary spirit that transformed homoerotic surrealism into a veritable cinematographic spectacle. His works have inspired some of the greatest living filmmakers, from Martin Scorsese to David Lynch.
One of his most famous achievements is his cult classic from 1954 Inauguration of the Dôme des Plaisirs, a rich short film that draws on occult symbolism to construct a masterful commentary on religion and faith in the modern world. Infused with cosmic power, the film flows smoothly from frame to frame as anger subjects us to a transcendent experience.
The idea for the film came to Anger when he attended a Halloween party that sparked his imagination. While many symbols were inspired by Anger’s obsession with the teachings of English occultist Aleister Crowley, the term “Pleasure Dome” is a reference to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s acclaimed masterpiece. Kubla Khan.
In an enthralling interview, Anger said: “I have always been intrigued by cinema, but I wanted to use it myself as an artist, more as a painter; the material rather than the narrative idea of the film. My family had a 16mm camera which was mainly used for vacations and vacations and most of the time it just sat there. The 16mm was something that the somewhat affluent middle class people had back then to record their families, and I thought the artistic work could be done with a 16mm.
And to add: “There is a tradition of experimentation or avant-garde cinema that dates back to the 1920s. There were a few artists who worked with it that way. Not only in France but a few people in the United States. I started out by always seeing the film as a personal art tool rather than a commercial thing.
Watch Kenneth Anger’s Cult Classic From 1954 Inauguration of the Dôme des Plaisirs in full below.