October 17, 2006
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Kenneth Anger's fame with the general public is based almost exclusively on his best-selling 1960 book, "Hollywood Babylon", whose scandalous revelations transcended gossip. But another audience knows Anger as a brilliant and stridently independent filmmaker. This reputation rests on a few short films totalling about three hours' length.
Plagued by calamities that have included financial problems, threats, despair, lost films, stolen ones and seizure of footage by labs on the ground of obscenity, his output has not been prolific. But his impact on American film and television has been substantial. It was in Anger's work that raw popular culture first found its place on the big screen.
Anger's "Scorpio Rising" revolutionized Martin Scorcese's use of soundtrack music. David Lynch's "Blue Velvet" bears the imprint of Anger's perversity.
The exotic lighting and gay iconography of Fassbinder has been compared to Anger's. Indeed, Anger's pioneering work in juxtaposing sound and image, his rapid editing and evocative tableaux can be cited as major influences on the shape of the commercials and music videos that permeate our culture today.