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Meshes of the Afternoon Movie Review

deren films maya film

The first thing you appreciate when you watch the films of Maya Deren is how unreflective of their own time they are. Deren made her first film, Meshes of the Afternoon, in 1943 when she was 26, but the visuals look like they might have been dreamed up 25 years later or more. Don't look for a plot. Traditional film narratives didn't interest her in the least. Maya Deren's avant-garde films were visual poetry, defying description or analysis (although many have tried). The beautiful woman with lots of soft, fluffy hair is Maya Deren herself, who appeared in most of her own films. Many of Deren's cinematic techniques continue to receive homage from filmmakers born many years after her early death in 1961. She is called the mother of independent film, and for good reason. Deren's beautiful, meticulously crafted films reflect her ideas and her interests and she made them to express herself as an artist, not to attract the attention of Hollywood executives at commercial studios. Deren would have been miserable in Hollywood, anyway. She had artistic control on her short films, which include 1944's At Land and A Study in Choreography for Camera, 1946's Ritual in Transfigured Time, 1948's Meditation on Violence, and Divine Horsemen, filmed in Haiti between 1947 and 1951. Why would such a maverick want to trade all that to work on other people's movies? She wouldn't, and only a truly independent artist can answer the question that way without a moment's hesitation and no regrets. Her films survive on a compilation video and are highly recommended for those who want to see the world as they've never experienced it before.

1943 18m/B Maya Deren; D: Maya Deren; C: Alexander Hamid.

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