Maya Deren was an Avant-garde filmmaker who made experimental, dream-like narrative films during World War II. Her films were meant to use symbolism to convey a story or an idea. In her previous shorts, "Meshes of the Afternoon" and "At Land" we are told of a woman's struggles through symbolic objects and surrealism. This gives all her shorts a mysterious and dreamlike atmosphere. Watching them as a film with a story, you'll be left wondering "Huh? What just happened here?" So to analyze a film like this, you must watch it, then look at the symbolism, think about it, and piece together the narrative entwined into the imagery.
In "Meshes of the Afternoon" a woman is struggling with her marriage, wondering if she made a good decision. This film (the director's first film) may have come from Deren's own life, as she had three different husbands. And in "At Land" the woman portrayed is struggling with her place in life. Maybe at one point, Deren too struggled with this same problem. Here, in this film, the woman shown is struggling with men.
In the beginning, the woman is innocent. She knows no men and is free. After helping another woman ball up some yarn (symbolic of something, but I can't think what) a mysterious woman lures her into a new world: a world of men, which she knows nothing about.
The woman is taken into a ballroom with people exchanging hands and talking. At first they are oblivious to her, communicating to us that men no nothing of her, either. But soon she has become part of their world too, a decision which she later regrets.
Later, out in the garden a man is talking with other women. The woman we have been following looks on and watches. She sees the man freeze the other woman in time. The woman is shocked and tries to escape the world she has entered. She runs away while the man chases in choreographed movement. And, in a final pose, we see the woman shining as an angel, telling us she has finally freed herself of the world she had entered and is clean once more.
Rita Christiani played the woman, while Maya Deren herself plays the woman at the beginning. The film is beautiful and artful. Who knows? Deren married three times, maybe that fact shows us that she too, like the woman in the film, struggled with men?
2 out of 2 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.