Yours truly : Fireworks and its psychosexual passage

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Edwards, Thomas Pearson

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In his 1947 film, Fireworks, young Kenneth Anger – both director and star actor – enacts a sexual rite of passage, using film techniques, theoretical methods, and visual tropes that descend from the avant-garde—favoring especially Surrealism and its penchant for psychoanalysis. Through the popularization of psychoanalysis in the United States and the influx of European avant-garde culture in Los Angeles in the 1940s, this thesis explores how Anger used these channels of influence to characterize his own fantastic sexual coming of age. The thesis reads select shots from the film to propose moments where form, Anger’s acting, and composition create meaning specific to an avant-garde, Surrealist context. In doing so, the paper identifies Anger’s filmic and ideological influences, allowing a historically and socially positioned viewing of Fireworks. Finally, the thesis addresses the implications of the growing trend in the 1940s for filmmakers and actors to exhibit their intimate, often sexual dreams and fantasies in the form of avant-garde, psychoanalytic work. The project’s supporting research includes mainly primary source material from little magazines, relevant avant-garde works preceding Anger’s film, film theory and criticism by Parker Tyler, and psychoanalytic texts by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.



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