Meshes of the Afternoon - Film as (un)reality Analytical Essay by PaxRomana

Meshes of the Afternoon - Film as (un)reality
An analysis of Maya Deren's views of film as reality, as described in her essay, "Cinematography: The Creative Use of Reality" and expressed in her film, "Meshes of the Afternoon."
# 103322 | 1,790 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on May 02, 2008 in Film (Artist) , English (Analysis) , Film (History of)

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This paper analyzes Maya Deren's views of the medium of film as described in her 1960 essay, "Cinematography: The Creative Use of Reality." It also looks at the innovation she appears to express in "Meshes of the Afternoon," which she co-produced with her then-husband, Alexander Hammid. The paper discusses the validity of her arguments of film as reality.

From the Paper:

"Deren's beliefs about film, though probably contributing to her early success with Meshes, may have constricted her ability as a filmmaker later in life. According to Catherine Russell's "Ecstatic Ethnography: Maya Deren and the Filming of Possession Rituals," Deren's fascination with Haitian rituals led to her Guggenheim-funded attempts to create a pseudo-documentary film in Haiti. After four visits, and a total failure to produce a finished film, Deren instead wrote a book because, she felt, a film could only show the "surface" of the rituals. It is an ironic twist of fate that one of avant-garde's most prominent innovators could not find a way to use film to show anything more than the "surface," and yet, this is what Deren's beliefs about film almost seem to foreshadow. Writing about the need for society to recognize film as a unique medium, Deren implores that "A radio is not a louder voice, an airplane is not a faster car, and the motion picture... should not be thought of as a faster painting or a more real play." If she had extended her analogy and concluded that the motion picture is also not reality, she might have emerged with an even more subtle and exciting theory of cinema."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Deren, Maya. "Cinematography: The Creative Use of Reality." The Avant-Garde Film. Ed. P Adams Sitney. New York, New York: University Press, 1998.
  • Russell, Catherine. "Ecstatic Ethnography: Maya Deren and the Filming of Possession Rituals." Rites of Realism: Essays on Corporeal Cinema. Ed. Ivone Margulies. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.
  • Pruitt, John. "Meshes of the Afternoon: A Model of Visual Thinking." Masterpieces of Modernist Cinema. Ed. Ted Perry. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Meshes of the Afternoon - Film as (un)reality (2008, May 02) Retrieved September 28, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Meshes of the Afternoon - Film as (un)reality" 02 May 2008. Web. 28 September. 2023. <>