Art or Porn?: Filmmakers Who Tested the Limits

These films were censored for obscenity when they first screened. Now they are shown at museums and on YouTube.

BY Christopher Harrity

August 01 2014 3:00 AM ET

With their personal quirky vision and willingness to put on film what most folks would call depraved, these filmmakers helped break down the barriers of what you are allowed to see.



Kenneth Anger's Fireworks
Kenneth Anger is most famous for his best-selling book Hollywood Babylon, which recounted the grisly and lurid tales of Hollywood in its heyday. Made when Anger was 20 years old at his parents Los Angeles home while they were away, Fireworks (1947) stars Anger and depicts homosexuality, S/M, and some pretty out there ideas about the 4th of July. The film got Anger arrested when it came out. Yet in the last few years there have been several major exhibits of his work in leading museums, including Los Angeles's MOCA. In 1958, a lawsuit was brought against the manager Raymond Rohauer of L.A.'s Coronet Theatre for screening Fireworks. The case became "an epic obscenity trial" in the California Supreme Court, which declared the film to be art. Anger's work is considered a visionary element that influenced the first music videos.



Tags: film

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