A wordless film, save for a voice-over introducing us to the imagery of dreams. A shirtless young man dreams of awakening to finds photographs of a muscular sailor carrying him in his arms. He goes to a bar where the sailor from his dream displays his muscular upper torso. A gang of sailors, swinging chains, enters menacingly. He watches, smoking. They surround him and an assault begins. Surreal touches accent the dream-like qualities. A phallic firework, a flaming Christmas tree, and the burning photographs provide climax and closure as the young man, back in bed, is beside the sailor. Written by
At the film's premiere in 1947 in Los Angeles were director James Whale and Dr Alfred Kinsey. The latter bought a copy of the film to keep in his archive. This marked the start of a lifelong friendship between the two, which even included Kenneth Anger taking part in some of Kinsey's research into male sexuality. See more »
[voice over narration]
In Fireworks, I released all the explosive pyrotechnics of a dream. Inflammable desires dampened by day under the cold water of consciousness are ignited that night by the libertarian matches of sleep, and burst forth in showers of shimmering incandescence. These imaginary displays provide a temporary relief.
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Anger's first film was made over the course of a weekend at his family home. His parents were away. He was Seventeen.
The film is a short and immensely effective exploration of sexuality. That the fantasies are of homosexual leaning bears no relevance; it is merely the chosen vehicle for the subject.
The film is fascinated with the violence of sexual submission as well as the fear of it. The narrative seems to take the form of a dream sequence and is laced with astonishingly mature sarcasm and gentle wit. It is by far Anger's greatest film and a landmark of the American avant-garde.
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