Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome: The Eldorado Edition


More Cameron, and her finest cinematic moment as she plays two roles—The Scarlet Woman and Kali—in Kenneth Anger’s erotic/psychedelic/thaumaturgic Bacchanal from 1954. Ordinarily there wouldn’t be much reason to draw attention to this, it’s been available on DVD and Blu-ray for several years, and various plunderings are scattered all over YouTube. The version here, however, gives an opportunity to experience the film as it was screened in the 1970s.


Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, like many of Kenneth Anger’s films, existed in several different forms, with the tinkering and re-editing going on for years after the original footage had been captured. An early edit made in the 1950s was fashioned into a version known as the “Sacred Mushroom Edition” which Anger screened to acid heads in the 1960s. I’ve never seen any mention of the soundtrack used for this version, or the other early editions, but in 1978 Anger released a new version with the film soundtracked by most of the Eldorado (1974) album by the Electric Light Orchestra. The note on the Vimeo page says the 1978 edition has only ever been publicly screened once but this isn’t the case. My first viewing of the film was in 1990 when the Magick Lantern Cycle was touring arts cinemas in the UK, and I very well remember sitting in the dark thinking “What the hell?… Is this the Electric Light Orchestra?” The version that’s seen today is soundtracked with Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass, a choice that seems much more suitable. For some time I’d thought of getting hold of the ELO album and running it with the film to remind myself of that initial viewing but there’s no need now that this version exists. The implication is that what you see here is the actual 1978 edit but the footage seems no different from the DVD version aside from missing a few seconds of credits at the beginning. The ELO album came with a cover photo showing Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, a detail that may explain why the Hollywood-obsessed Anger was drawn to the album in the first place.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Brush of Baphomet by Kenneth Anger
Anger Sees Red
Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon
Lucifer Rising posters
Missoni by Kenneth Anger
Anger in London
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger by Marie Menken
Edmund Teske
Kenneth Anger on DVD again
Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally

5 thoughts on “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome: The Eldorado Edition”

  1. I actually had a look at this recently, and just COULDN’T watch it. The ELO seems wrong in this context, and sucks all the atmosphere and magic out of it, for me at any rate.

  2. Thank you for posting this, a revenant of a film I thought I’d never see again (much like Anger’s all doo-wop version of ‘Rabbit’s Moon’). While acknowledging that the Janácek piece is a more satisfying match, I was impressed all the same by the synchrony achieved within ‘Eldorado”s running time, especially the “Mr. Kingdom” segment. It was a different decade, I was a different person and my first viewing of Anger’s work were – for a couple of years – life-changing. I still agree with John Waters, that films such as these were and are infinitely preferable to what post-war avant-garde film became: “colors jumping around.”

  3. Richard: The doo-wop version is now restored on the DVD. It works so much better than the double-speed version of Rabbit’s Moon which—again—was the first one I saw.

    Thom: Kenneth is dragged-up as Hecate in Inauguration so he might appreciate that. ELO always remind me of listening to the radio in the 1970s, for a while they seemed omnipresent in the charts. A while back I met a young keyboard player from NYC who was very surprised by this, he was under the impression that they were some avant garde music group who weren’t so popular! Strange to think now of how we took such outrageously ambitious music for granted.

  4. Thanks for the update, John. Now that I think of it, the “Glagolitic Mass” soundtrack may have been the original soundtrack for IOTPD. I saw the first version once, immediately prior to the release of the ELO-tracked version. Asking after the soundtrack of the earlier version, I recall the mention of Janácek’s name. The film is discussed in detail within P. Adams Sitney’s ‘Visionary Film’ (a book which i no longer own, unfortunately) and I’d bet he only saw the original print prior to writing in the mid-’70s.

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