Monday, October 22, 2012

United States, 1940s and 1950s - Part 1

Maya Deren, Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943 (13 min) 

The viewer sees multiple instances of Maya Deren and suggests a dream-like environment; dreams within dreams, films in films. Her use of the disorienting camera movement on the stairs and fight to reach the top echos the use of dream movement. The scene when there are three of her sitting at the table has always reminded me of Freud's Id, Ego, and Superego. Each representation takes the key, but only one is "guilty". The cloaked figure with the mirrored face reminded me of "Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein" (And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.) by Nietszche [Beyond Good and Evil: Aphorism 146]. My favourite scene is the use of filmic space where she traverses great distances with each step.

Maya Deren, A Study In Choreography For Camera. 1945 (2 min) (please turn the music off!) 

At first the dancers resembled the trees blowing in the breeze. Then another use of traversing the film space from the woods to an apartment-like space --- the leg in the woods comes down to step in to the next space. The spinning dancer begins to resemble the statue of, སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས, Jainraisig, (aka. Avalokiteśvara), with the multiples heads. 

Kenneth Anger, Fireworks. 1947 (14 min) 

He went to look for "love" in the wrong space, yet was "saved" in the end by a heroic figure. The juxtaposition of (1) watching the man get beat up then digging through innards and (2) what looked like a stick of dynamite then the burning tip of the X-mas tree was brilliantly put together; so suggestive. 

Kenneth Anger, Eaux d' Artifice. 1953 (12 min)

At first I did not understand what the deal was with the woman walking around a giant garden of fountains (and I still may not understand), but, by the end, the woman becomes synonymous with the fountains --- especially the feathers on her head. Many to most people associate water with the colour blue, and the film was dyed accordingly; with the exception of the hand tinted yellow of her fan at one moment. Everywhere she went, the viewer was made aware of the fountain faces that seem to follow her with their eyes as if they were on constant vigilance (got creepy after a while).

Marie Menken, Lights. 1965 (6 min)

I loved how Menken took X-mas lights, car lights and city lights and gave them new life. By either shaking the camera or riding in a car at night, these lights grew from one point of light to streams of lights. Through the silence of the film I could hear the symphony the lights were creating.

Willard Maas, Geography of a Body. 1943 (7 min)

The extreme close-ups of the body, some so distorted that I could not figure them all out, began to be a guessing game of "what am I looking at". The audio accompaniment made some references that were interpreted visually by parts of the body, ex. caves = ears, the martyr = the headless torso. I suppose I would like to know what the audio was originally for and why it was used for this film. On the other hand, does it really matter?

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