Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
At not even fifteen minutes long, "Meshes of the Afternoon" is hardly a daunting task to watch. Yet, I've been hurt before by doubting short films's power (see "Un Chien Andalou"). I had no idea what to expect with this film, I had not known anything about it only that it was supposedly one of the best short films to date...and it is.
It's easy to shrug it off as something that is experimental, but "Meshes of the Afternoon" has a very involved plot, sometimes a little hard to follow.
A woman is walking home and she sees a flower on the road, this flower fell from the sky earlier. She picks up said flora and continues walking up the steps to her door. When she tries the handle, it's locked. Fishing the key out of her purse she opens the door and goes into her house.
Her house is filled with unusually placed items: a knife that is still in the bread and falls out when the woman enters the room, a phone that is dangling from the base, and a curtain blowing in an open window. It appears like someone was just in the house, but after a quick perusal of the rooms, the woman retires to a couch and falls asleep.
In her dreams she sees her house again. There is a figure, cloaked in all black with a mirror for a face , carrying her flower. This figure walks along the path next to her house and she tries to run after it, but can't catch it. She goes back into her house and there she finds some of the same items: a key, a phone, a curtain, and a knife.
From there several complexities bloom into an almost baffling finale.
There is no doubt in my mind, "Meshes of the Afternoon" is unbridled brilliance. If anything was a precursor to "Inception"—it was this...right down to an eerily familiar hallway scene.
"Meshes of the Afternoon" plays with the idea of dreams and nightmares—reality versus perception. It's too dark and too simple to be Kaufman, though he may have drawn some inspirations from this film.
It was made by a husband and wife team: Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid. It feels very intimate, like a movie made for just the sake of artistry...and what a film it is!
I may not understand every aspect of it, and the end scene could be more disturbing than originally thought. But it revels in its mysteries and is incredibly watchable.
"Meshes of the Afternoon" may be a simple horror story, making something frightening about afternoon naps. It could also be the story of a woman who was simply crazy. Or it could be something deeper—surrealist and psychological.
The film allows for multiple opinions, all or none of which could be truthful.
It's brilliant, creepy, and demanding.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones