Directed and starring Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid and written and edited by Deren, Meshes of the Afternoon is a 19-minute experimental film about a woman who dreams of certain things that blur her idea of reality. The film is a take on the idea of surrealism as it play into the idea of reality and fantasy. The result is a riveting and evocative film from Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid.
The film revolves around the dreams of a woman as it play into the idea of surrealism and the trappings of domesticity. It’s a film that plays into things that a woman is dreaming about as she sees Death lurking around her home carrying a flower while she tries to catch him as she would see a doppelganger of herself and another. Sometimes carrying a key or a knife as it play into what this woman might be imagining as it really plays more into a woman’s state of mind as well as the world she’s in. There isn’t much of a script as Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid just aim for the visuals to tell the story rather than base everything on a traditional narrative. With Hammid being the film’s cinematographer as it is shot in grainy black-and-white film stock, Deren and Hammid play into element of repetition as well as this idea of surrealism. The direction also include these gazing shots that is often shown from a second story window along with these interior shots that play into this woman looking around whether she is dreaming or is she in a dream-within-a-dream.
The direction also has these elements through Deren’s editing as it adds to the surrealism that include a scene of three versions of the woman each taking an object and what is the outcome. Adding to the suspense in a score that was added in its 1959 release is music by Teiji Ito who uses an array of sounds and discordant textures that play into the film’s eerie tone. Even as Ito’s score just enhances the sense of the unknown where the film also maintains this air of surrealism that includes Deren’s performance as the woman and Hammid as both the man and the mysterious black-cloaked, mirror-faced representation of Death. Overall, Deren and Hammid craft a strange yet exhilarating film about a woman’s dreams and its eerie mediation of identity.
Meshes of the Afternoon is a tremendous film from Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid. It’s a wondrous 19-minute experimental short film that explore not just identity and dreams but also a woman trying to find meaning in what she’s seeing. In the end, Meshes of the Afternoon is a spectacular film from Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid.
Maya Deren Films: (The Witch’s Cradle) – (At Land) – (A Study in Choreography for Camera) – (Ritual in Transfigured Time) – (The Private Life of a Cat) – (Meditation on Violence) – (Medusa (1949 film)) – (Ensemble for Somnambulists) – (The Very Eye of Night) – (Season of Stranger) – (Divine Horsemen) – (The Living Gods of Haiti)
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