Director: Maya Deren
If there’s a prize for least-seen film on the Sight and Sound 2022 poll then number 14 I am sure would be in with a shout. Meshes of the Afternoon is a 14-minute black and white silent film from 1943, made by avant-garde US/Ukrainian film-maker Maya Deren. Deren plays the protagonist, a young woman who returns home and sees a mysterious hooded figure. She falls asleep in a chair and in a series of dream-like replays of her return home a number of actions are repeated: she sees a mysterious hooded figure with a mirrored face. She opens the door with a key, and later on the key reappears from her mouth. She goes up a flight of stairs and lifts the needle from a record playing on a portable phonograph. There are telephones around the house off the hook and bread and a knife. Later on a doppelganger of her appears, and a man who she attempts to injure. In the final scenes she appears again in the chair now dead.
If David Lynch had never made films perhaps this film would not have the current prominence it has, though clearly a film that made an impact at the time: it was awarded the 1947 Cannes prize for avant-garde film. As it is, one can see many Lynchian tropes on evidence here: mysterious keys (Mulholland Drive), moebius-strip narratives that fold in on themselves (Lost Highway), doppelgangers (Twin Peaks) and sudden outbursts of violence. (er…) On a more general level, Deren marries the European surrealist avant-garde with film noir – again an idea that Lynch would explore in Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Bunuel, Lynch, Dali…