Here is an interesting match-up…
Pioneering esoteric film maker Kenneth Anger gets interviewed by pioneering esoteric film maker Gaspar Noe in this match-made-in-heaven (hell?) tete-a-tete:
Kenneth Anger, the octogenarian American underground filmmaker, has largely been heralded as one of the founders of experimental film, with his role in inspiring directors such as Martin Scorsese and David Lynch. He pioneered queer, cult and psychedelic film without ever imagining himself in a gere, and this year he crossed over into fashion and created a piece (with longtime collaborator Brian Butler) for the Italian fashion house Missoni.
Gaspar Noé, director of the recent film Enter the Void and creator of the controversial film Irreversible, has long been a vocal supporter of Kenneth Anger, telling Interview that Anger was the only person he wanted to see Enter the Void. Noé recently caught up with Anger by phone, while the former was in Paris and the latter in Boston. They discussed the essence of cinema, his experience with alien spacecrafts, and why you should not direct movies under the influence of LSD.—Kristina Benns
NOÉ: Do you remember we met a few years ago? You were in Paris doing a retrospective at the Cinémathèque…
ANGER: I remember, vaguely, but I do so many interviews, they seem to all blend together.
NOÉ: I think the reason why they asked me if I wanted to have a conversation with you is because in other interviews I have talked about you, about how when I think about the best psychedelic movies ever, one of the first things that comes to my mind is Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.
Do you think you’d be a director today, if you hadn’t been in Max Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)?
ANGER: Well, It’s a long story. I began making movies at home, with a 16-millimeter camera that belonged to the family. Before that, I worked a little, I did a little part in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Director Max Reinhardt was a friend of my grandmother’s, and that’s how that happened.
NOÉ: That movie reminds me of your movie Rabbit’s Moon (1950).
ANGER: I loved the artificial set of the forest at Warner Brothers, this huge set that they made in two connecting soundstages. So that influenced me. But also, I’m influenced by director Georges Méliès, and the simplicity of his magical painted steps, and so forth.
NOÉ: What are your favorite movies directed by other people?
ANGER: Well in the classic French tradition, I love Robert Bresson and I met Georges Franju, and I love his films. And Ann Levy, and of course, Jean Cocteau. And I like some of the films of Marcel Carné very much. I love Arlette Langmann.
NOÉ: Do you often cry when you see movies?
ANGER: I don’t. I’m not a tear-shedder. But I feel it emotionally.
NOÉ: I have a heavy question… What is the essence of cinema for you? Is it reproducing the language of dreams, or creating a shamanistic trance?
ANGER: I think it’s basically quite different from dreams. If only cinema was that easy. Because dreams, all you have to do is fall asleep, and you can have fantastic vision. I know Baudelaire and people like that enhance their dreams with opium or something. But films are very constructed—they’re like architecture. They’re pieced together, glued together. To me, it’s a craft. It’s like making a tapestry. And I prefer to think of it—you know, um, the sweat is supposed to be invisible. But a lot of sweat can go into making a film. But of course, if you enjoy doing it, you enjoy doing it. I will go on cutting for three days without sleeping. You can have everything from a realistic story with recognizable people, or…
I actually love the Italian neo-realist films, and in some ways they seem very dreamlike. You know, the early Rossellini and so forth… But you can have a very expensive dream, which is quite beautifully done, which is like Cameron’s Avatar, which you probably saw. Did you see it?
ANGER: Well, that can be considered like a dream, a very expensive dream. I prefer simpler things.
NOÉ: Do you think the language of dreams is universal? Do you think people in other countries have their own culturally specific way of dreaming? People in China, Africa…
ANGER: I think people dream in their own way, dreams are extremely personal, even from person to person. They are completely individual.
NOÉ: I don’t dream in 3-D, they aren’t very bright in color and there isn’t much dialogue. I don’t know about yours…
ANGER: Sometimes I dream in black and white. And actually, I love black and white films, even though it’s been a while since I made any myself. Do you work in color or black and white?
NOÉ: My last movie is extremely colorful. What is a dream you have had that was over-the-top, or really strange?
ANGER: When I was a teenager or a boy, I used to collect tin soldiers. And I had hundreds of them—I had a navy with a ship and the Marines. And I had a dream when I was about 15 of these soldiers coming alive and it was a fight with the Muslims, which is very sort of prophetic. So it was a fight against the Arabs—I remember the crescent on the flags. And the little toys came alive in my dream. They were still toys—they weren’t people. They were battling an invasion of the desert people under a crescent flag. It was the American flag against the crescent flag, which may be prophetic for something to come.
Find the full interview here.
Kenneth Anger’s The Complete Magick Lantern Cycle – including Kustom Kar Kommandos – is now available from The Sleepless Bookstore!
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