USA, 17 min
Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) music by Teiji Itō added 1952
Much like Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bête , which came three years after this short, this piece pivoted on the repetition of certain objects. Through the rondo-like succession of imagery, these objects are instilled with emotional significance.
The cinematography by Deren’s Czech husband Alexander Hammid is skillful and effectively disorienting. It is all the more impressive when the limited budget the pair was working on is taken into account. His focus and composition were excellent, and his perspective was obviously sensitive to Deren’s vision.
9 years after the filming, Teiji Itō produced a minimal score for the piece at the age of 17. Through the use of semitones between what sounds like a human voice humming and a bowed bass note, the pressure of the unresolved diminished unison adds great tension to the short. The semitones paired with the staccato percussion speaks as much of Itō’s sensitivity to Deren’s vision as the cinematography spoke of Hammid’s. It is no wonder that Deren and Itō were later married.
Side note: Looks like Kate Bush much?
USA, 90 min
In this documentary on the Rastafarians in Jamaica, director Alan Greenberg interviews some Jamaicans whose conversations suggest that the smoking of ganja, the worship of Haile Selassie (the former Ethiopian emperor) as a god, and the goal of Jamaican self-realization is their own kind of unified field theory. A young, poverty-stricken teenager listens to the reggae music on his radio as though it will magically lead him to a better future, and a pineapple cutter living in the “baddest” area of the island dreams of fomenting tourism in his exotic surroundings. The May, 1981 funeral of Bob Marley brought Christian and Rastafarian beliefs together in tribute to the island’s hero, providing one of the most poignant vignettes in the Land of Look Behind.