The works of Maya Deren are hugely influential touchstones for experimental cinema, frequently cited and studied. Her luminous debut Meshes of the Afternoon, covered here as part of the Counter-Programming The Great Movies series, is a widely recognized classic of the form, a dreamlike visual interrogation that, in Deren’s words, “externalizes an inner world to the point where it is confounded with the external world.”
Meshes of the Afternoon
Like his hero Jean Cocteau, Kenneth Anger is a mercurial and scandalous figure in 20th century art. An Aleister Crowley-influenced occultist, associate of counter-culture figures ranging from Mick Jagger to Charles Manson acolyte and convicted murderer Bobby Beausoleil, and author of the notorious Hollywood Babylon, a profoundly dubious book of gossip which The New York Times famously proclaimed to be “without one single redeeming merit,” Anger’s notoriety often threatens to overshadow his artistic output as an avant-garde filmmaker.
Cinema and dream-logic in Meshes of the Afternoon
Part of an ongoing effort to watch a set of films from non-White, non-U.S., non-male, and/or non-straight filmmakers and depart a little from the Western canon. The intro and full list can be found here.
Maya Deren’s hugely influential 1943 short Meshes of the Afternoon played a key role in kicking off the New American Cinema Group, and has lost none of its power to entrance in the 70-plus years since.