RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME
(director/writer: Maya Deren; cinematographer: Hella Heyman; editor: Maya Deren; cast: Maya Deren (Dancer), Anais Nin (Haughty Woman), Frank Westbrook (Dancer), Rita Christiani(Dancer); Runtime: 15; MPAA Rating: NR; Criterion Collection; 1946)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren (“Meshes of the Afternoon”)directs this hypnotic silent that’s a study in movement, gestures and composition. It has Maya Deren call a timid dancer (Rita Christiani), who is in another room helping another woman with unwinding a hank of yarn, to assist in the other room a Sisyphean domestic ritual. She’s again summoned by another haughty cosmopolitan figure (Anaïs Nin) to join her by the opposite doorway. Inside there is an engaging cocktail party and the shy dancer dons a cross and mourning attire, as she navigates her way through the jerky dance movements of the party makers. One of the guests is a persistent suitor (Frank Westbrook) and he entices the maiden to watch him dance barechested, as if a statue come to life, in the sculptured garden.
This short experimental film, a presentation of performance art, is a formalized, aesthetic composition of regimentation and a study of dynamic human forms. It’s a creative and sublime work of art that explores such things through dance as the exposition on the spatial, the dimensionality of time, and synchronicity. It’s an arthouse film meant for those seeking high culture.
REVIEWED ON 5/10/2011 GRADE: B