One of the most influential avant garde films of all time, Alexander Hammid and Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon stars Deren as a woman inside of a labyrinthine nightmare, inhabited by her double as well as a mysterious cloaked figure with the face of a mirror.
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I love this, very provocative with the use of camera work and style. It seems new to me, even though it was made in 43. It is just brillant, I don't think after watching this short picture, that you could ever forget it. It's strange and out there, a clear vision of the use of dreams and weird reality all rolled into one. A very dark artistic film.
Maya Derin's film is an essential part of my collection. If anything happened to my disc, I would have to replace it. I like Maya Derin's other films, too. Avant-garde silent films are great: Bunuel, Germaine Dulac, Cocteau, all great.
If it wasn't for the fragmented and surreal aesthetic, I don't think this film has an abundant amount to say on the nature of relationships and suicide, or whatever it is trying to say, as that is rather subjective. But, it's not fully formed due to this indirectness, anyhow. Yet, its unhinged photography, jagged editing, and the light and dark shadow play of the lighting keep this early avant-garde film engaging.
Or How to Create an Avant-Garde Masterpiece Using Just a California Apartment. MUBI offered me the chance to revisit this since a cruddy VHS rip in college, and it's even more remarkable: a woman goes to sleep and dreams a series of circular, rhyming narrative repetitions, laying out desire and anxiety, with the chance the dream might break into reality. We wouldn't have Lynch without Maya Deren, and he knows it.
Rewatch on 16mm curated by Teju Cole. Practically nothing new I could say about this that millions haven’t said already, but suffice it to say that watching this projected on a large screen through the grain/hum/tactility of celluloid (and not on a youtube video on your laptop) is essential.
Film as a representation of mind - of the conscious & subconscious processes involved in thought formation; the recursions & iterations by which stimuli are internalized, interpreted, integrated, again invoked; the way data becomes 'truth'. Impossible not to grin with recognition, and be awed at the simple elegance of her model. Cinema in service of insight. Look forward to more of her films.