Eaux D'Artifice


Dir. Kenneth Anger, 16mm Color Sound 00:13:00

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A lyrical, semi-abstract cinepoem, photographed among the fountains of the Villa d'estee, by one of America's most highly acclaimed filmartists.

[Source: Creative Film Society Catalog, 1975]

While traveling with experimental filmmaker Marie Menken in Europe, Anger was inspired by the elaborate fountains of Villa d’Este in Tivoli to design this meticulously structured musical celebration of baroque excess.

[Source: Harvard Film Archive]

EAUX D'ARTIFICE was made in the 50s, and the amazing thing is that I got permission from the Italian Department of Antiquities to film in the Villa d’Este gardens, which is about 30 miles outside of Rome. Of course they said, don’t break any statues or anything (laughs), which we didn’t. But I don’t know if they would grant that today. The Tivoli gardens have always been a tourist destination, and as I was filming I had the right to block off certain parts for half an hour. And usually it worked out fine, but a couple of times the American Express bus would come along and they would say, ‘Let us in, let us in, we’re going to be late to see something else!’ I just ignored them until I got my shot. It’s very tricky filming with the sunlight, and the reason why the Tivoli gardens were so wonderful was that it’s full of big cypress trees, which create wonderful dark shadows, so you have shafts of lights which are almost like theatrical spotlights coming down. I had to plan it all ahead according to the time of day. It’s all day for night, shot with red filters on panchromatic stock. It’s the only film of mine which has been chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation. I don’t know what that means (laughs), they haven’t given me any money to actually do the preservation. They do have a copy of it though. -- Kenneth Anger

[Source: Electric Sheep]