Reality is confused with the dreamworld as a woman chases herself through a black and white land of symbols and cycles. Avant-garde pioneer Maya Deren's first film, Meshes of the Afternoon, concerns the psyche's secrets in an enigma of images.
Conceived and produced by (and starring) Maya Deren and then-husband Alexander Hammid in 1943, Meshes of the Afternoon was the budding experimentalist's defining work. Originally silent, and subsequently even more nightmarish, the film had music added 16 years after its initial release: a score composed by Deren's third husband, Teiji Ito.
Evidencing obvious Freudian and Surrealist influences—especially from Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí's plotless and spiralling earlier experiments—the short is Deren's cinematic dream journal, an idea of how she perceives herself, refracted. The intense drama of her unreality almost plays like parody now, with so many imitations (almost everything David Lynch does and probably every hyper-stylized dream sequence ever), racked up in the collective cultural consciousness. Deren wasn't the first or last to realize that the camera could be an entry to the subconscious, and Meshes of the Afternoon is as much a product of its influences as it is an enormously influential work itself, a strangely meaningful dream.