Dec 7, 2008

In the Mirror of Maya Deren


In the Mirror of Maya Deren is a fairly straight forward and soothing introduction to the life of Maya Deren. Deren is best known for her avant-garde short films which were filmed in everywhere from the over glamorized streets of Hollywood to the natural landscapes of Haiti. Deren was a Russian Jewess who made her way from Russia to the United States a few years after the so called “Russian” Revolution of 1917. Her shorts have an untamed feeling of a rootless human wandering through the most mystic areas of the world.


In the Mirror of Maya Deren features a variety of interviews with closest friends of the unconventional filmmakers and filmmakers that she inspired. Experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage pays his tribute to Maya Deren as the man should. Film as a Subversive Art author Amos Vogel talks respectively of Deren. With all the people interviewed in the documentary, it's as if not one of these individuals seemed to truly know Maya Deren. She was an individual as ambiguous as her films. Deren’s films are probably the closest window into who the woman really was.


Maya Deren surely utilized her 16mm Bolex camera to its fullest potential. Many filmmakers learned their art and technique on the camera. Maya Deren created her masterpieces on the Bolex and proved that it is more of who is behind the equipment than the quality of the equipment itself. Hollywood, a place that Deren always despised, always has the best technology yet truly is lacking in regards to cinematic masterpieces. I believe that attempting to create art in Hollywood would have been too financially risky for the bigwig pigs in Hollywood. They certainly let F.W. Murnau know that art wasn’t wanted in Hollywood. After the German director finished the monetarily unsuccessful film Sunrise, a film that is at the center of cinematic artistry, Hollywood restricted Murnau's artistic freedom until his early death.


As can be expected, In The Mirror of Maya Deren features a variety of clips from the directors very short career. The documentary also features early and later photographs of Deren. You even get to see her at a Communist rally in the United States. Her first husband was of a culture despising Bolshevik. If one hasn’t even seen a clip of Deren’s work, In The Mirror of Maya Deren is still highly recommended. The documentary is sure to entice anyone into Deren’s work that even has a remote interest in advent-garde films.


-Ty E

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just watched Meshes of The Afternoon and thought it was great. Certainly a first and one of a kind movie, my brain is on fire.