Avant-garde and Experimental Cinema

maya deren


In this class we learned that many films, especially from the early 1920’s, were considered experimental films. This means that they didn’t follow the rules of mainstream cinema, most often questioning some issues regarding sexuality, religion, politics and life in general which earned them the label of “outcasts” by the general film industry and even the audience who wasn’t used to having such taboo topics being brought forth so openly. An example of one of these films is “Meshes Of The Afternoon” (1943), that we watched in class, and being it an “out of the box” storyline, it’s meaning will create waves of mixed opinions due to its subjective interpretation.


Some may think she was dreaming the whole time, others believe that what was shown was her in limbo after being murdered thus she’s reliving the moments up until her death, or she could have killed herself and what we’re seeing is a woman that has no idea of what is happening, then she could’ve had an affair with a men who gave her the flower, the same men that comes visit her and tries to kiss her, maybe that’s why he killed her so his wife would never know… Basically the options for they “whys” and the “whats” of this film are nearly endless, being there no right or wrong answer. And that’s what I think is brilliant about it. Personally, I normally don’t dig much into the experimental genre but when there’s a film that even though we don’t fully grasp its concept and why the characters acted the way they did or why that had to happen, we still find it interesting, then I think the director made a good job! This is just one of the many films in this specific genre that created a cult following due to its endless possibilities story wise. But avant-garde makes its influence known in all art forms, from music to sculpture to painting to photography to architecture.

So I can say that from this class I learned that the interpretation of said avant-garde films can be limitless and that the experimental genre can influence any existent art form.