After claiming that deconstructing the film is overly exhausted and to some degree counterintuitive, I will, nonetheless, attempt to add some context to my interpretation of the the multilayered and expansive narrative that is Meshes of the Afternoon. Yet, I will attempt to only pull what would be pertinent to a feminist analysis, considering the theme of this month on my blog, and even in doing so I am not claiming it to be a certainty in any reading, but merely one of a wide set of possibilities. Firstly, the manner with which the unnamed main character, played, of course, by Deren herself, moves through the space of the film, often extending arms, from the top of the screen downward, or being half shot in a reflection of a window, could speak to issues of disembodiment that many women face, specifically after being victim to sexual violence, something the film indirectly suggests has occurred. Secondly, the key, perhaps the films most recurring image, could mean a variety of things relating to femininity, whether it be her own identity, or more abstractly her "way of being female" a key that, not accidentally, can turn to a knife without a moments notice. Of course, these previous mentioned images and stylistic choices are key, but the films most jarring and enigmatic image has to be the mirror-faced grim reaper who moves through the space of the film, much to the awareness of the the main woman in the film, but at the same time completely detached. If it were not for the presence, of the mirror, I would simply call it a rather normal relation to sex and death that often emerges in surrealist filmmaking, think of the moth from Un Chien Andalou for a classic example. Yet the mirror for a face on the figure of death, is perhaps in a Lacanian kind of way, a suggestion to the woman's own othering and lack, there for visualizing her silence and inevitable death as a result. Of course, I have no clue what to make of the phone that the grim reaper carries, but it only drives me to visit this film many more times in the future.
To view Meshes in the Afternoon online, or to get more information about Maya Deren, click on either of the images below: