Monday, June 15, 2009

Avant-Garde: Puce Moment (1949, Kenneth Anger)

Puce Moment (1949)
USA, 6 min
Directed by: Kenneth Anger
Written by: Kenneth Anger
Starring: Yvonne Marquis
Puce Moment (1949) is, oddly enough, my first film from director Kenneth Anger. As soon as it began, I realised I'd discovered a filmmaker who stood well ahead of his time. Is that folk rock playing on the soundtrack? Surely, I told myself, such a song has no place in a 1949 film – but the technique has since become commonplace in movies and music videos. The film's vibrant colour photography clashes uncertainly with the shaky hand-held filming style, suggesting the rising experimental movement of the 1960s. It's peculiar that Anger wasn't even attempting to be "trendy" or "modern" with his film-making style. Puce Moment, originally intended as a feature, was supposed to be emulating the opulent Hollywood lifestyles of the silent era. The film opens with a 1920s movie star (Yvonne Marquis) lavishly searching for a suitable dress from her extensive wardrobe of flapper gowns, before applying perfume, languishing lazily on a chair, and then taking her four dogs for a walk. Strangely, it all barely feels like the 1920s. Does this mean that the film failed in what it was attempting? Maybe, but it's a glorious failure. Anger's condemnation of the movie star's decadent daily routine preempts Billy Wilder's critique in Sunset Blvd. (1950), and his film-making style clearly influenced the experimental cinema of the coming decades. This was my first film from Kenneth Anger, but it certainly won't be my last.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.