Remembering Kenneth Anger, the Greatest Underground Filmmaker Who Ever Lived
Owen Gleiberman Chief Film Critic Most artists, if they’re lucky, invent one thing. But Kenneth Anger, who was a filmmaker, an author, a debauched aristocratic scenester and, to the day of his death at 96 (he reportedly died May 11, though it wasn’t made public until May 24), a figure of puckish mystery, invented several things, each of them epic. In “Fireworks,” his transcendent 14-minute avant-garde film of 1947, Anger invented the very consciousness and imagery of gay liberation — not the desire to be liberated (which was buried in the hearts of gay people everywhere), but the rapturous visual reverie of what that liberation might look like, what it would feel like, why it seemed so forbidden, and why it needed to be. In “Scorpio Rising,” his homoerotic demon-biker/Top-40-orgy blast from the underground, Anger invented MTV, invented what Martin Scorsese did in “Mean Streets” and David Lynch did in “Blue Velvet,” invented a way to express how music and reality talk to each other.