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28 DECEMBER 2012

Influential American experimental cinema: Meshes of the Afternoon

"Meshes of the Afternoon is one of the most influential works in American experimental cinema. A non–narrative work, it has been identified as a key example of the 'trance film,' in which a protagonist appears in a dreamlike state, and where the camera conveys his or her subjective focus. The central figure in Meshes of the Afternoon, played by Deren, is attuned to her unconscious mind and caught in a web of dream events that spill over into reality. Symbolic objects, such as a key and a knife, recur throughout the film; events are open–ended and interrupted. Deren explained that she wanted 'to put on film the feeling which a human being experiences about an incident, rather than to record the incident accurately.'

Made by Deren with her husband, cinematographer Alexander Hammid, Meshes of the Afternoon established the independent avant–garde movement in film in the United States, which is known as the New American Cinema. It directly inspired early works by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and other major experimental filmmakers. Beautifully shot by Hammid, a leading documentary filmmaker and cameraman in Europe (where he used the surname Hackenschmied) before he moved to New York, the film makes new and startling use of such standard cinematic devices as montage editing and matte shots. Through her extensive writings, lectures, and films, Deren became the preeminent voice of avant–garde cinema in the 1940s and the early 1950s."

(MoMA, 2004)

The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999.

Maya Deren (1943). "Meshes of the Afternoon", 16mm film, black and white, silent, 14 min. Acquired from the Artist.

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TAGS

16mm1943 • Alexander Hackenschmied • Alexander Hammid • American cinemaavant-garde cinemablack and whiteBolexcinemacinematic devicescloakdeathdream • dream world • dreamlike qualityeditingexperimental cinemaexperimental film • experimental filmmaker • filmfilm pioneerfilmmakerflowerFreudianindependent cinemainfluential directorinfluential worksKenneth Angerkeyknife • matte • Maya Deren • Meshes of the Afternoon • mirrorMoMA • New American Cinema • non-narrativeopen-endedpersonal filmrecurring ideasrepetitionrhythmscreen-mediated virtual spaceseminalsilent filmstaircaseStan Brakhagesurrealist cinemasymbolic meaningsymbolism • Teiji Ito • tranceunconscious desires • unconscious meaning • women in filmwomen in historywordless

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 MARCH 2012

Jean Cocteau: la Belle et la Bête

"La lumière brillante et surnaturelle qui avait dominé toute la scène du château (flamme des chandeliers, feu, reflets étincelants de l'argenterie) s'estompe pour laisser la place à la lumière naturelle du jour [plan 9] [9]. Ces rayons lumineux rappellent ceux des dernières gravures de la Belle au vois dormant. D'autant plus que cette lumière naturelle n'est pas légitimée par la présence d'une fenêtre, comme c'est le cas chez Doré. C'est une lumière naturelle, la lumière du jour, mais elle semble toujours éclairer le personnage de manière surnaturelle : comment la lumière extérieure peut–elle pénétrer à l'intérieur sans la présence d'aucune fenêtre ? Les flambeaux s'éteignent un à un, le personnage traverse un grand pan de lumière blanche, la porte se referme toute seule, l'escalier apparaît en plongée : la scène semble se rejouer à l'envers, ce qui souligne la structure circulaire et la clôture de la séquence, mais aussi l'influence de l'œuvre de Gustave Doré. Le dialogue des contes et des illustrations se poursuit jusqu'à la dernière image de la séquence puisqu'elle se termine sur les ronces qui envahissent l'escalier du château de la Bête, comme celles qui envahissent les gravures du château de la Belle au bois dormant."

(Estelle Plaisant Soler, 26 juin 2006)

Fig.1 Jean Cocteau (1946). "la Belle et la Bête"

2). PDF of 100 Cult Films (Screen Guides).

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TAGS

1946atmosphericbeastbeauty • candlebra • candlestick • caryatids • castlechandelierscostume design • daylight • eerie • enchanted garden • engraving • external light • externalisation • extinguished • fairy talefantasyfilmfilm designfireflameFrenchgloveGustave Dorehorse • iconogaphy • in the mindinterior spaceJean CocteauJean Marais • Josette Day • Jungian • key • La Belle et la Bete • light • living arms • Madame Leprince de Beaumont • magic • merchant • metaphormotion picturemyth • natural light • Prince Charmingrealityset design • silverware • Sleeping Beauty • smoke-breathing • sparkling reflections • spatial symbolismspecial effectsstaircasestory • supernatural • surrealismsymbolismtalismantheatrical space • torch • visual designvisual metaphorvisual spectacle • white light

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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