Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Maya Deren

Meshes of the Afternoon is a 1943 experimental silent film short:

This article (there are spoilers in the article though not in this clip) about Maya Deren says

Meshes of the Afternoon was produced in an environment of wartime volatility and this is reflected symbolically throughout its mise-en-scène. The title card suggesting that the film was 'made in Hollywood' is ironic, Deren sets her film within an LA setting, but it is the nightmare element of the dream factory that interests her most. The film establishes an atmosphere saturated in paranoia and distrust with lovers turning into killers and with the presence of a mysterious but fascinating hooded figure. As European émigrés, Deren and Hammid invest their film with an acute sense of restlessness and alienation. Meshes of the Afternoon reflects this uncanny estrangement in the doubling, tripling and quadrupling of its central character (played by Deren) and in its cyclic narrative, a structure that seems condemned to repetition. The hooded figure with the reflective face adds yet another dimension, reflecting back the identity of those who look into her eyes.

MoMA describes the movie:

Meshes of the Afternoon is one of the most influential works in American experimental cinema. A non-narrative work, it has been identified as a key example of the "trance film," in which a protagonist appears in a dreamlike state, and where the camera conveys his or her subjective focus.

Made by Deren with her husband, cinematographer Alexander Hammid, Meshes of the Afternoon established the independent avant-garde movement in film in the United States, which is known as the New American Cinema. It directly inspired early works by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and other major experimental filmmakers.

Another Maya Deren film, At Land is a 1944 silent short:

Having watched 2 Maya Deren shorts, I decided to see what else I could find. Private Life of a Cat is a short silent film co-directed by Ms. Deren and her husband Alexander Hammid. The title is perfectly descriptive, the movie telling the story of a cat and the birth and raising of her beautiful kittens:

Witch's Cradle, from 1944, was unfinished:

A Study in Choreography for Camera is from 1945:

Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946) is another Maya Deren short film (5/10/2008, Film of the Year has a post on this film):

The Very Eye of Night is a short film from 1958:

Meditation on Violence:

Divine Horsemen was filmed in Haiti over the course of several years and explores vodou, a subject that was of great interest to Ms. Deren. The film was edited and completed long after her death. It is longer than the others but still under an hour in length. This is a documentary, nothing like her other films:

update 12/4/2007: FerdyonFilms has posted on Meshes of the Afternoon and At Land as part of the Short Film Blogathon.

6/4/2008: A Film Canon comments on the film Meshes of the Afternoon.

9/17/2009: Only the Cinema has a post on Deren.

10/6/2011: Film Studies for Free has links and videos.

1 comment:

  1. I love Maya Deren, she is still a important base for a new approach in movie making.