Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Meshes of the Afternoon is full of bizarre and creepy surrealist images. It's very poetic and disturbing. It reproduces the way in which the subconscious of an individual will develop, interpret and elaborate an apparently simple and casual incident into a critical emotional experience.
Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid wanted to put on film the feeling which a human being experiences about an incident, rather than to record the incident accurately.
This short is still one of the most popular of all American experimental films and is a landmark film that has provided an important model, setting the tone and style for other individual efforts over the next decade.
The entire film is seen through the eyes of a woman. You cannot tell when Maya's character is awake or dreaming. She carries a flower with her, which she holds upside down. She sees death, who wears a black hood and has a mirror for a face. She sees herself dreaming. In her dream she seems to foresee her own death. She seems to have a subconscious fear of knives, or being killed by a knife.

The film's narrative is circular and repeats a number of psychologically symbolic images, including a flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a mysterious Grim Reaper-like cloaked figure with a mirror for a face, a phone off the hook and an ocean.
The film was produced in an environment of wartime volatility and this is reflected symbolically as throughout its mise-en-scène: the atmosphere is saturated in paranoia.
The beauty of this films is in its rhythmus: an innovative style of cutting on action, repetition and variation: a series of subtle structural, temporal, and logical mutations, creating a sublimely recursive, mind-bending meditation on the interaction between experience and memory, domestic banality and violence, imagination and causation.
You can buy Maya Deren: Experimental Films.

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