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Meshes of the Afternoon: Female figure dreams

by Michael Frierson

In Meshes of the Afternnon, the female figure falls asleep on a stuffed chair by the window. Deren uses a classical cinematic figure of style using traditional, repeated markers for the dream sequence, altered with simple effects.

Here, the classical cutting back and forth to the extreme close up, modified by low-tech effects created in front of the lens, is a kind of prototype for many experimental filmmakers to follow, a effective gesture that transforms the dominant editing forms of Hollywood cinema for personal expression.

The creative camera work and deft editing of this scene exemplifies Deren’s poetics, as expressed in Anagram, that creative filmmaking involves both the camera – as a tool of discovery – and editing – a tool of invention. Filmmaking is an "instrument composed of two separate but interdependent parts, which flank the artist on either side. Between him and reality stands the camera . . . with its variable lenses, speeds, emulsions, etc. On the other side is the strip of film which must be subjected to the mechanisms and processes of editing (a relating of all the separate images), before a motion picture comes into existence. The camera provides the elements of the form, and, although it does not always do so, can either discover them or create them, or discover and create them simultaneously. Upon the mechanics and processes of ‘editing’ falls the burden of relating all of these elements into a dynamic whole."

Meshes of the Afternoon: Female figure dreams

The creative camera work and deft editing of this scene exemplifies Deren’s poetics, as expressed in Anagram, that creative filmmaking involves both the camera – as a tool of discovery – and editing – a tool of invention.

from Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
Creator: Maya Deren and Alexandr Hackenschmied (Hammid)
Distributor: Mystic Fire
Posted by Michael Frierson
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