Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

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?



  1. Deren’s husband Alexander Hammid (Alexandr Hackenschmied) was Austrian not Czech. He made films in Czechoslovakia and the US.

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