Thursday, January 19, 2012
Maya Deren is a huge inspiration to me. If I could only acquire one measly ounce of her graceful surrealist magic, I would would be forever happy. Deren was a pioneering Ukrainian-American avant-garde filmmaker, choreographer, writer, dancer, and photographer from the 40s and 50s. She was in staunch opposition to Hollywood's big budgets, false images, hypocrisy, and skewed ethics. Her firm resistance to Hollywood and deep commitment to her art lead to a life of malnutrition and, when coupled with years of dangerous levels of prescribed medicines from quack doctors, caused a brain hemorrhage, ending her life far too soon. Her legacy as a director of American experimental, short film is enduring.
The above clip "At Land" (1944) is one of the strongest most iconic examples of Deren's work. It is a 15-minute silent film Deren wrote, directed, and starred in. There is a dream-like, nonlinear flow to the film where Deren's character washes up on a beach to encounter people and visions reflecting herself. She described the film as a journey through self-identification.
The film also features contributions by avant-garde music legend John Cage.
View Part 2 here.