April 29, 1917
|Died||October 13, 1961 44) (aged|
New York, New York, United States
|Education||New York University, New School of Social Research, Smith College|
|Known for||Choreography, film, dancing|
|Films: Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), At Land (1944), A Study for Choreography for Camera (1945), Ritual in Transfigured Time (1945–1946), Meditation on Violence (1947), The Very Eye of Night (1959) |
Books: Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti (1953)
An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film (1946)
|Spouse(s)||Gregory Bardacke (1935–1939)|
Alexandr Hackenschmied (1942–1947)
Teiji Itō (1960–1961; her death)
|Awards|| Guggenheim Fellowship, Creative Work in Motion Pictures, (1947)|
Grand Prix Internationale for Amateur Film, Cannes Film Festival (1947)
Maya Deren (born Eleonora Derenkowska, Ukrainian: Елеоно́ра Деренко́вська; April 29, 1917 – October 13, 1961) was a Ukrainian-born American experimental filmmaker and important promoter of the avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s. Deren was also a choreographer, dancer, film theorist, poet, lecturer, writer, and photographer.
The function of film, Deren believed, was to create an experience.She combined her expertise in dance and choreography, ethnography, the African spirit religion of Haitian Vodou, symbolist poetry and gestalt psychology (student of Kurt Koffka) in a series of perceptual, black-and-white short films. Using editing, multiple exposures, jump-cutting, superimposition, slow-motion, and other camera techniques to her advantage, Deren abandoned established notions of physical space and time, in carefully planned films with specific conceptual aims.
Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), her collaboration with Alexander Hammid, has been one of the most influential experimental films in American cinema history. She went on to make several films of her own, including At Land (1944), A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945), and Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946), writing, producing, directing, editing, and photographing them with help from only one other person, Hella Heyman, her camerawoman.
Deren was born in Kiev, Ukraine (then Russia), into a Jewish family,to psychologist Solomon Derenkowsky and Marie Fiedler, who supposedly named her after Italian actress Eleonora Duse.
In 1922, the family fled the USSR because of anti-Semitic pogroms perpetrated by the White Volunteer Army and moved to Syracuse, New York. Her father shortened the family name to "Deren" shortly after they arrived in New York.He became the staff psychiatrist at the State Institute for the Feeble-Minded in Syracuse.
In 1928, Deren's parents became naturalized citizens of the United States.Her mother moved to Paris, France, to be with her daughter while she attended the League of Nations International School of Geneva in Switzerland from 1930 to 1933.
Deren began college at Syracuse University, where she studied journalismand political science, and also became a highly active socialist leader during the Trotskyist movement. Deren served as National Secretary in the National Student office of the Young People's Socialist League and was a member of the Social Problems Club at Syracuse University through which she met Gregory Bardacke, whom she married at the age of eighteen in June 1935. After his graduation in 1935, she moved to New York City. She finished school at New York University with a bachelor's degree in literature in June 1936 then returned to Syracuse in the fall. She and her husband became active in various socialist causes in New York City; during this time they separated and eventually divorced three years later. She attended the New School for Social Research. She received a master's degree in English literature at Smith College. Her master's thesis was titled The Influence of the French Symbolist School on Anglo-American Poetry (1939).
After graduation from Smith, Deren returned to New York's Greenwich Village, where she joined the European émigré art scene. She supported herself from 1937 to 1939 by freelance writing for radio shows and foreign-language newspapers. During that time she also worked as an editorial assistant to famous American writers Eda Lou Walton, Max Eastman, and then William Seabrook.She became known for her European-style handmade clothes, wild, curly hair, and fierce convictions. In 1940, Deren moved to Los Angeles to focus on her poetry and freelance photography. In 1941, Deren wrote to Katherine Dunham—an African American dancer, choreographer, and anthropologist of Caribbean culture and dance—suggesting a children's book on dance; she later became Dunham's assistant and publicist. Dunham's fieldwork influenced Deren's studies of Haitian culture and Vodou mythology. At the end of touring a new musical Cabin in the Sky , the Dunham dance company stopped in Los Angeles for several months to work in Hollywood. It was there that Deren met Alexandr Hackenschmied (later Hammid), a celebrated Czech-born photographer and cameraman who would become her second husband in 1942. Hackenschmied had fled from Czechoslovakia in 1938 after the Sudetenland crisis. They lived together in Laurel Canyon, where he helped her with her still photography which focused on local fruit pickers in Los Angeles.
Deren defined cinema as an art, provided an intellectual context for film viewing, and filled a theoretical gap for the kinds of independent films that film societies were featuring.
Her entrepreneurial spirit became evident as she began to screen and distribute her films in the United States, Canada, and Cuba, lecturing and writing on avant-garde film theory, and additionally on Vodou. In February 1946 she booked the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village for a major public exhibition, titled Three Abandoned Films, in which she showed Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), At Land (1944) and A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945).The event was completely sold out, inspiring Amos Vogel's formation of Cinema 16, the most successful film society of the 1950s.
In 1946, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for "Creative Work in the Field of Motion Pictures", and won the Grand Prix Internationale for 16mm experimental film at the Cannes Film Festival for Meshes of the Afternoon. She then created a scholarship for experimental filmmakers, the Creative Film Foundation.
In 1958, Deren collaborated with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School and Antony Tudor to create The Very Eye of Night .
Deren was a muse and inspiration to such up-and-coming avant-garde filmmakers as Curtis Harrington, Stan Brakhage, and Kenneth Anger, who emulated her independent, entrepreneurial spirit. Her influence can also be seen in films by Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer, and Su Friedrich.
In 1943, Deren purchased a used 16 mm Bolex camera with some of the inheritance money after her father's death from a heart attack. This camera was used to make her first and best-known film, Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), made in collaboration with Hammid in their Los Angeles home on a budget of $250.Meshes of the Afternoon is recognized as a seminal American avant-garde film. It is the first example of a narrative work in avant-garde American film; critics have seen autobiographical elements in the film, as well as thoughts about women and the individual. Originally a silent film with no dialogue, music for the film was composed by Deren's third husband Teiji Itō in 1952. The film can be described as an expressionistic "trance film", full of dramatic angles and innovative editing. It seems to investigate the ephemeral ways in which the protagonist's unconscious mind works and makes connections between objects and situations. A woman, played by Maya Deren, walks to her friend's house in Los Angeles, falls asleep and has a dream. The sequence of walking up to the gate on the partially shaded road restarts numerous times, resisting conventional narrative expectations, and ends in various situations inside the house. Movement from the wind, shadows and the music sustain the heartbeat of the dream. Certain symbols recur on the screen, including a cloaked, mirror-faced figure, and a key, which becomes twinned with a knife.
The loose repetition and rhythm cut short any expectation of a conventional narrative, heightening the dream-like qualities. The camera initially avoids her face, which precludes identification with a particular woman. Multiple selves appear, shifting between the first and third person, suggesting that the super-ego is at play, which is in line with the psychoanalytic Freudian staircase and flower motifs. This kind of Freudian interpretation, which she disagreed with, led Deren to add sound, composed by Teiji Itō, to the film. Another interpretation is that each film is an example of a "personal film". Her first piece explores a woman's subjectivity and her relation to the external world. Georges Sadoul said Deren may have been "the most important figure in the post-war development of the personal, independent film in the U.S.A."In featuring the filmmaker as the woman whose subjectivity in the domestic space is explored, the feminist dictum "the personal is political" is foregrounded. As with her other films on self-representation, Deren navigates conflicting tendencies of the self and the "other", through doubling, multiplication and merging of the woman in the film. Following a dreamlike quest with allegorical complexity, Meshes of the Afternoon has an enigmatic structure and a loose affinity with both film noir and domestic melodrama. The film is famous for how it resonated with Deren's own life and anxieties. According to a review in The Moving Image, "this film emerges from a set of concerns and passionate commitments that are native to Deren's life and her trajectory. The first of these trajectories is Deren's interest in socialism during her youth and university years".
There is no concrete information about the conception of Meshes of the Afternoon beyond that Deren offered the poetic ideas and Hammid was able to turn them into visuals. Deren's initial concept began on the terms of a subjective camera, one that would show the point of view of herself without the aid of mirrors and would move as her eyes through spaces. According to the earliest program note, she describes Meshes of the Afternoon as follows:
This film is concerned with the interior experiences of an individual. It does not record an event which could be witnessed by other persons. Rather, it reproduces the way in which the subconscious of an individual will develop, interpret, and elaborate an apparently simple and casual incident into a critical emotional experience.
Deren filmed At Land in Port Jefferson and Amagansett, New York in the summer of 1944. Taking on more of an environmental psychologist's perspective, Deren "externalizes the hidden dynamic of the external world...as if I had moved from a concern with the life of the fish, to a concern with the sea which accounts for the character of the fish and its life."Maya Deren washes up on the shore of the beach, and climbs up a piece of driftwood that leads to a room lit by chandeliers, and one long table filled with men and women smoking. She seems to be invisible to the people as she crawls across the table, uninhibited; her body continues seamlessly again onto a new frame, crawling through foliage; following the flowing pattern of water on rocks; following a man across a farm, to a sick man in bed, through a series of doors, and finally popping up outside on a cliff. She shrinks in the wide frame as she walks farther away from the camera, up and down sand dunes, then frantically collecting rocks back on the shore. Her expression seems confused when she sees two women playing chess in the sand. She runs back through the entire sequence, and because of the jump-cuts, it seems as though she is a double or "doppelganger", where her earlier self sees her other self running through the scene. Some of her movements are controlled, suggesting a theatrical, dancer-like quality, while some have an almost animalistic sensibility as she crawls through the seemingly foreign environments. This is one of Deren's films in which the focus is on the character's exploration of her own subjectivity in her physical environment, inside as well as outside her subconscious, although it has a similar amorphous quality compared to her other films.
In the spring of 1945 she made A Study in Choreography for Camera, which Deren said was "an effort to isolate and celebrate the principle of the power of movement."The compositions and varying speeds of movement within the frame inform and interact with Deren's meticulous edits and varying film speeds and motions to create a dance that Deren said could only exist on film. Excited by the way the dynamic of movement is greater than anything else within the film, Maya established a completely new sense of the word "geography" as the movement of the dancer transcends and manipulates the ideas of both time and space. Running at just under 3 minutes long, A Study in Choreography for Camera is a fragment but also a carefully constructed exploration of a man who dances in a forest, and then seems to teleport to the inside of a house because of how continuous his movements are from one place to the next. The choreography is perfectly synched as he seamlessly appears in an outdoor courtyard and then returns to an open, natural space. It shows a progression from nature to the confines of society, and back to nature. The figure belongs to dancer and choreographer Talley Beatty, whose last movement is a leap across the screen back to the natural world. The edit its broken, choppy, showing different angles and compositions, and even with parts in slow-motion, Deren is able to keep the quality of the leap smooth and seemingly uninterrupted.
By her fourth film, Deren discussed in An Anagram that she felt special attention should be given to unique possibilities of time and that the form should be ritualistic as a whole. Ritual in Transfigured Time began in August and was completed in 1946. It explored the fear of rejection and the freedom of expression in abandoning ritual, looking at the details as well as the bigger ideas of the nature and process of change. The main roles were played by Deren and the dancers Rita Christiani and Frank Westbrook.
Deren's Meditation on Violence was made in 1948. Chao-Li Chi's performance obscures the distinction between violence and beauty. It was an attempt to "abstract the principle of ongoing metamorphosis", found in Ritual in Transfigured Time, though Deren felt it was not as successful in the clarity of that idea, brought down by its philosophical weight.Halfway through the film, the sequence is rewound, producing a film loop.
In 1943, she moved to a bungalow on Kings Road in Hollywoodand adopted the name Maya, a pet name her husband Hammid coined. Maya is the name of the mother of the historical Buddha as well as the dharmic concept of the illusory nature of reality. In Greek myth, Maia is the mother of Hermes and a goddess of mountains and fields.
In 1944, back in New York City, her social circle included Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, John Cage, and Anaïs Nin.In 1944, Deren filmed The Witch's Cradle in Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery with Duchamp featured in the film.
Many friends described her look as that of an exotic Russian Jew,[ citation needed ] attributing a part of her attractiveness to her bohemian, Greenwich Village lifestyle. In the December 1946 issue of Esquire magazine, a caption for her photograph teased that she "experiments with motion pictures of the subconscious, but here is finite evidence that the lady herself is infinitely photogenic." Her third husband, Teiji Itō, said: "Maya was always a Russian. In Haiti she was a Russian. She was always dressed up, talking, speaking many languages and being a Russian."
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Deren attacked Hollywood for its artistic, political and economic monopoly over American cinema. She stated, "I make my pictures for what Hollywood spends on lipstick," and observed that Hollywood "has been a major obstacle to the definition and development of motion pictures as a creative fine-art form." She set herself in opposition to the Hollywood film industry's standards and practices.Deren talks about the freedoms of independent cinema:
Artistic freedom means that the amateur filmmaker is never forced to sacrifice visual drama and beauty to a stream of words...to the relentless activity and explanations of a plot...nor is the amateur production expected to return profit on a huge investment by holding the attention of a massive and motley audience for 90 minutes...Instead of trying to invent a plot that moves, use the movement of wind, or water, children, people, elevators, balls, etc. as a poem might celebrate these. And use your freedom to experiment with visual ideas; your mistakes will not get you fired.
When Maya Deren decided to make an ethnographic film in Haiti, she was criticized for abandoning avant-garde film where she had made her name, but she was ready to expand to a new level as an artist.She had studied ethnographic footage by Gregory Bateson in Bali in 1947, and was interested in including it in her next film. In September, she divorced Hammid and left for a nine-month stay in Haiti. The Guggenheim Fellowship grant in 1947 enabled Deren to finance her travel and complete her film Meditation on Violence. She went on three additional trips through 1954 to document and record the rituals of Haitian Vodou.
A source of inspiration for ritual dance was Katherine Dunham who wrote her master's thesis on Haitian dances in 1939, which Deren edited. Afterwards Deren wrote several articles on religious possession in dancing before her first trip to Haiti.Deren not only filmed, recorded and photographed many hours of Vodou ritual, but also participated in the ceremonies. She documented her knowledge and experience of Vodou in Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti (New York: Vanguard Press, 1953), edited by Joseph Campbell, which is considered a definitive source on the subject. She described her attraction to Vodou possession ceremonies, transformation, dance, play, games and especially ritual came from her strong feeling on the need to decenter our thoughts of self, ego and personality. In her book An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form, and Film she wrote:
The ritualistic form treats the human being not as the source of the dramatic action, but as a somewhat depersonalized element in a dramatic whole. The intent of such depersonalization is not the destruction of the individual; on the contrary, it enlarges him beyond the personal dimension and frees him from the specializations and confines of personality. He becomes part of a dynamic whole which, like all such creative relationships, in turn, endow its parts with a measure of its larger meaning.
Deren filmed 18,000 feet of Vodou rituals and people she met in Haiti. The footage was incorporated into a posthumous documentary film Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti , edited and produced in 1977 (with funding from Deren's friend James Merrill) by Teiji Itō (1935-1982) and his wife Cherel Winett Itō (1947–1999).All of the original wire recordings, photographs and notes are held in the Maya Deren Collection at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. The film footage is housed at Anthology Film Archives in New York City.
An LP of some of Deren's wire recordings was published by the newly formed Elektra Records in 1953 entitled Voices of Haiti. The cover art for the album was by Teiji Itō.
Anthropologists Melville Herkovitz and Harold Courlander acknowledged the importance of Divine Horsemen, and in contemporary studies it is often cited as an authoritative voice, where Deren's methodology has been especially praised because "Vodou has resisted all orthodoxies, never mistaking surface representations for inner realities."
In her book of the same nameDeren uses the spelling Voudoun, explaining: "Voudoun terminology, titles and ceremonies still make use of the original African words and in this book they have been spelled out according to usual English phonetics and so as to render, as closely as possible, the Haitian pronunciation. Most of the songs, sayings and even some of the religious terms, however, are in Creole, which is primarily French in derivation (although it also contains African, Spanish and Indian words). Where the Creole word retains its French meaning, it has been written out so as to indicate both the original French word and the distinctive Creole pronunciation." In her Glossary of Creole Words, Deren includes 'Voudoun' while the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary draws attention to the similar French word, Vaudoux.
Deren died in 1961, at the age of 44, from a brain hemorrhage brought on by extreme malnutrition. Her condition may have also been weakened by her long-term dependence on amphetamines and sleeping pills prescribed by Max Jacobson, a doctor and member of the arts scene, notorious for his liberal prescription of drugs,who later became famous as one of President John F. Kennedy's physicians.
Her ashes were scattered in Japan at Mount Fuji.
Deren was a key figure in the creation of a New American Cinema, highlighting personal, experimental, underground film. In 1986, the American Film Institute created the Maya Deren Award to honor independent filmmakers.
The Legend of Maya Deren, Vol. 1 Part 2 consists of hundreds of documents, interviews, oral histories, letters, and autobiographical memoirs.
Works about Deren and her works have been produced in various media:
Deren's films have also been shown with newly written alternative soundtracks:
|Denotes posthumously released|
|Meshes of the Afternoon||1943||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||co-directed with Alexander Hammid|
|The Witch's Cradle||1944||Yes||Yes||No||No||unfinished|
|A Study in Choreography for Camera||1945||Yes||No||No||No||solo starring by Talley Beatty|
|The Private Life of a Cat||1947||Yes||No||No||No||Collaboration with Alexander Hammid|
|Ritual in Transfigured Time||1946||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||co-edited by Alexander Hammid|
|Meditation on Violence||1948||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||music by Teiji Itō|
|Ensemble for Somnambulists||1951||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Toronto Film Society workshop; unreleased, unfinished|
|The Very Eye of Night||1958||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||collaboration with Metropolitan Opera Ballet School|
|Season of Strangers||1959||Yes||No||No||No||also known as Haiku Film Project, unfinished|
|Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti||1985||Yes||No||No||No||Original footage shot by Deren (1947–1954); reconstruction by Teiji and Cherel Itō|
|1953||Maya Deren||Voices of Haiti||Elektra Records||Design [cover]: Teiji Itō; recorded during ceremonials near Croix-des-Missions and Pétion-Ville, Haiti|
|1978||Unknown||Meringues and Folk Ballads of Haiti||Lyrichord Discs||Recorded by Maya Deren|
|1980||Unknown||Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti||Lyrichord Discs||Recorded by Maya Deren; design [cover]: Teiji Itō; liner notes: Cherel Ito|
Deren was also an important film theorist.
Meshes of the Afternoon is a 1943 American short experimental film directed by and starring wife-and-husband team Maya Deren and Alexandr Hackenschmied. The film's narrative is circular and repeats several motifs, including a flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a mysterious Grim Reaper–like cloaked figure with a mirror for a face, a phone off the hook and an ocean. Through creative editing, distinct camera angles, and slow motion, the surrealist film depicts a world in which it is more and more difficult to catch reality.
Damballa, also spelled Damballah, Dambala, Dambalah, among other variations, is one of the most important of all loa, spirits in Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo traditions. He is portrayed as a great white serpent, originating in the city of Wedo in modern-day Benin. Damballa is said to be the Sky Father and the primordial creator of all life, or the first thing created by Gran Met. In those Vodou societies that view Damballa as the primordial creator, he created the cosmos by using his 7,000 coils to form the stars and the planets in the heavens and to shape the hills and valleys on earth. In others, being the first thing created by God, creation was undertaken through him. By shedding the serpent skin, Damballa created all the waters on the earth. As a serpent, he moves between land and water, generating life, and through the earth, uniting the land with the waters below. Damballa is usually syncretized with either Saint Patrick or Moses. He is counted among the Rada loa.
Experimental film, experimental cinema, or avant-garde cinema is a mode of filmmaking that rigorously re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms or alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working. Many experimental films, particularly early ones, relate to arts in other disciplines: painting, dance, literature and poetry, or arise from research and development of new technical resources.
Cinema 16 was a New York City–based film society founded by Amos Vogel. From 1947 until 1963, he and his wife Marcia ran the most successful and influential membership film society in North American history, at its height boasting 7000 members.
Barbara Jean Hammer was an American feminist film director, producer, writer, and cinematographer. She is known for being one of the pioneers of lesbian film genre, whose career spanned over 50 years. Hammer is known for having created experimental films dealing with women's issues such as gender roles, lesbian relationships and coping with aging and family. She resided in New York City and Kerhonkson, New York, and taught each summer at the European Graduate School.
Wavelength is a 45-minute film by Canadian experimental filmmaker and artist Michael Snow, known for building his reputation upon publicity of the film. Considered a landmark of avant-garde cinema, it was filmed over one week in December 1966 and edited in 1967, and is an example of what film theorist P. Adams Sitney describes as "structural film", calling Snow "the dean of structural filmmakers."
Alexandr Hackenschmied, born Alexander Siegfried George Hackenschmied, known later as Alexander Hammid was a Czech-American photographer, film director, cinematographer and film editor. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1938 and became involved in American avant-garde cinema. He is best known for three films: Crisis (1939), Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) and To Be Alive! (1964). He made Meshes of the Afternoon with Maya Deren, to whom he was married from 1942 to 1947. His second marriage was to the photographer Hella Heyman, who had also collaborated with Hammid and Deren on several films.
At Land (1944) is a 15-minute silent experimental film written, directed by, and starring Maya Deren. It has a dream-like narrative in which a woman, played by Deren, is washed up on a beach and goes on a strange journey encountering other people and other versions of herself. Deren once said that the film is about the struggle to maintain one's personal identity.
The Rada are a family of lwa spirits in the religion of Haitian Vodou. They are regarded as being sweet-tempered and "cool", in this contrasting with the Petro lwa, which are regarded as volatile and "hot".
Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti (1954) is a black-and-white documentary film of approximately 52 minutes. It is about dance and possession in Haitian vodou that was shot by experimental filmmaker Maya Deren between 1947 and 1954.
Teiji Ito was a Japanese composer and performer. He is best known for his scores for the avant-garde films by Maya Deren.
Hannah Smith (1897–1960) was an American arts patron, philanthropist, and advocate for social change. Legendary for her salon parties, she enjoyed being the conduit for many unlikely meetings and collaborations. In 1938, when a significant number of European artists were fleeing Europe, she started the Hannah Smith Agency in New York City. The Agency represented a select group of artists and thinkers, embodying Smith’s knack for collecting artists and ideas.
Sara Kathryn Arledge was an American artist and filmmaker acknowledged as "one of the foremothers of the American experimental cinema."
Annette Michelson was an American art and film critic and writer. Her work contributed to the fields of cinema studies and the avant-garde in visual culture.
Rita Christiani (1917-2008) was a Trinidad-born African-American dancer who appeared in American films during the 1940s.
A Study in Choreography for Camera is 1945 American experimental silent black and white short directed by Maya Deren. It was Deren's third project, in which she fully realized her vision of freeing the human body from the confines of theatrical—and actual—space. The film stars Talley Beatty.
Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946) is a short, silent experimental film directed by Maya Deren. Like Deren's previous work, A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945), she explores the use of dance on film through the lens of commentary of societal norms, metamorphosis, and anthropomorphism. The film is notable for its disjointed storytelling and use of slow motion, freeze framing, and unique blend of stage dance and film.
Hella Hammid was a German-American photographer whose career included teaching at UCLA. Her freelance photographs appeared in diverse publications including Life, Ebony, The Sun and The New York Times. Her softly backlit picture of two young Italian girls dancing, watched by other children in front of the abutments of a stone building, was chosen by Edward Steichen for his 1955 world-touring MoMA exhibition The Family of Man, which was seen by 9 million visitors.
Lullaby is a 1929 American silent drama film directed by Boris Deutsch and starring Michael Visaroff, and Riva Segal.In Lullaby there is not only a deeply realistic plot that is investigated by the director with a skilled use of light and close-up but also a sort of dream plot that lives in the interiority of the female protagonist represented through faces of demons tormenting her sleep and cubist alteration of the cityscape realized using Deutsch's paintings. In the development of the film the two planes, the real one and the dream one, merge each other and the reality for the female protagonist is one that embraces both sphere of matter and spirit. A work that ahead of its times. Only in 40s, after 14 years, Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid will make similar films. Boris Deutsch declared that "is desire was to get at the abstract reality, the realm of mental imagery and imagination, without losing of the world of reality"
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