A woman blisses-out in her villa, searching her closet for the perfect flapper dress (spoiler alert: it's puce!) and ritualizing make-up on a chaise lounge before walking a pack of Borzois into the proverbial sunset.
Filmed in 1949 and soundtracked later, Puce Moment is underground legend Kenneth Anger's first color work, and second surviving film after the groundbreaking Fireworks. Its stunningly vibrant color saturation, stock quality, and dreamy, anachronistic audio are the innovative trademarks of its maker.
Credited as the grandfather of the music video for his instinctive use of popular music in his film work, Kenneth Anger requires too many adjectives and honorary titles to adequately describe him or his importance to American cinema. Born into a Hollywood family with an infinite Rolodex, Anger wrote the definitive dishy tell-all, Hollywood Babylon when the studio system's empire was ending, and worked with every cult icon imaginable, from Anaïs Nin to Marianne Faithfull. A believer in the Thelemic system of the occultist Alesteir Crowley, Anger practices magick—the k means it's real—in his work, thinking of the creation and viewing of his movies, and the existence of the films themselves, as spell-casting. He's probably on to something; there is a wizardry in the sounds and symbols of Puce Moment and the rest, though their magick may be stunted by their budgets.
Though his films are stunning and hypnotic, most are shortened versions of Anger's bigger dreams. Being "underground" means filming cheaply or for free—or at least it did in Anger's heyday, before "independent" just meant any huge studio's lesser imprint—and the director often had to cut short bigger plans for longer movies to stay within his, or a grant's budget. Now 83, and finally gaining mainstream recognition, laudation, and distribution, Anger is still wary of the bottom line. While lecture-touring after the release of his collective works on DVD, he reported receiving only around $5,000 from the deal, a horribly unjust fact given his seminal influence. Financial worries never disturbed the master much, though; the money doesn't matter, as long as the magick works.