Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren is one of the most intriguing and significant experimental films of the 1940’s. Maya Deren is a surrealist experimental filmmaker who explores themes like yearning, obsession, loss and mortality in her films. In Meshes of the Afternoon, Maya Deren is highly influenced by Sigmund Freud’s theory of expressing the realms of the subconscious mind through a dream. Meshes of the Afternoon, is a narration of her own experience with the subconscious mind that draws the viewers to experience the events being played out rather than just merely showing the film. I chose Maya Deren for my research because her intriguing sense gives viewers an enthralling experience by taking them to a different, semi-real world of the subconscious mind. Meshes of the Afternoon not only reveals Deren’s success in a male dominant arena, but also provides a sensational and escalating experience for the spectators.
Maya Deren was born in Kiev, Ukraine on April 29, 1917, just months before the Bolshevik Revolution. She was born into a bourgeoisie secular Jew family and migrated to United States in 1922 because the situation was very grave in Ukraine during the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1928, Deren moved to Paris to attend the League of Nations school in Geneva. Maya Deren began her early literary works from school that can be traced as a theme in her later literary and film works. One of her earliest documentation of her literary work can be traced from school where she was supposed to write what a “good book” is,
“In my estimation a good book first must contain little or no trace of the author unless the author himself is a character. That is, when I read the book I should not feel that someone is telling me the story but the happenings are the consequences of circumstances which are naturally formed and not that some hand has formed them. The story should be a drama or a comedy which rises out of itself and not by someone making.”(Rhodes, 17).
This relates a lot to her later works where she emphasizes the importance of characterization and visual representation speaks about hats going on rather than narrating it to the viewers through dialogues. A lot of importance is places on the subject of the film and draws the viewers to view events affecting the central protagonist.
Deren receives her masters from Smith College and did several jobs like editorial assistant and freelance photography. Deren then wrote a children’s book on African American dance and became the personal secretary Katherine Dunham. During the Dunham dance tour, she met Alexander Hamid in Hollywood, who then becomes her life partner. Maya Deren published several brilliantly composed books like “Divine Horeseman: The living Gods of Haiti, An Anagram of Ideas of Art, Form and Film, and essays like “Cinematography: The creative Use of Reality.” (Nichols, 7). Maya Deren’s writings, like her films, set her own legendary status. Common attributes of Maya Deren in her...