Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fireworks (1947)

Part 1
Part 2

Kenneth Anger
1947, USA
14 Min

Kenneth Anger's "Fireworks" is a statement about the difficulty of being a homosexual in 1940's America as well as an exploration of the thoughts and feelings of a gay teenage boy trapped in such a culture. Anger's own synopsis of the film states: "A dissatisfied dreamer awakes, goes out in the night seeking a `light' and is drawn through the needle's eye. A dream of a dream, he returns to bed less empty than before." I believe the identity of this "light" is first revealed when the "dreamer" exits the place he had been sleeping through a door marked "Gents." "Light" symbolizes, in my opinion, the fulfillment of the boy's sexual needs. Thus, he goes out into the night looking for "light" and finds it in the form of a muscular sailor.

In the next scene, the "dreamer" is attacked by a group of sailors and beaten badly, cut with broken class and would have had his heart cut out if his heart had not been a gas gauge. Milk is then poured over the "dreamer", a sailor that is meant to seem larger than life then appears with a firework protruding from his pants. He lights said firework and a stream of sparks fly from its tip. The next scene is of a burning Christmas tree and the final scene is of the view of the "dreamer" in bed with a sailor with his face disillusioned by light.

In my opinion, the film is filled with a great amount of symbolism starting with the muscular sailor who I believe is the "dreamers" ideal man, the kind of man he wishes to pursue. The scene in which the "dreamer" is beaten and cut with glass could in fact be a scene in which the character is being raped by a group sailors, brutalized by them, and finally covered in semen (milk). This part of the film confused me and if I followed the train of thought that this scene was a rape scene then it might be an expression of Anger's own homoerotic sadomasochism. The image of the sailor with the phallic firework also led me to this notion as he appears to be "larger than life" and has "light" protruding from his metaphorical phallus. The final scene of the "dreamer" in bed with the sailor whose face is obscured by light leads one to believe that the dreamer found his "light" and that is the reason he returns to bed "less empty than before."

Overall, I believe this film is an exploration of being a homosexual in 1940's American and what it meant to attempt to fulfill the urges that one finds running through their mind at night.


haley schattner said...

Interesting film, thanks for sharing. I agree that there is a lot of symbolism throughout the film and I think the sailor is being 'raped' like you describe. Though I watched the film flinching, (the fingers going up the nose and then the blood exploding), the editing was seamless.

Anonymous said...

That was awesome. I also found this funny video on Youtube by a Canadian comedian. You might want to check it out.

lee woo said...

I didn't have a fireworks moment for my salvation. I had a falling in love with Jesus in Sunday school when I was a very young child. See the link below for more info.


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