Alice Guy, Germaine Dulac, Maya Deren, Marie Menken

Alice Guy, Germaine Dulac, Maya Deren, Marie Menken

Image: At Land, Maya Deren

"A woman is deposited on a beach by the sea, and the mechanical and unnatural retreating of the waves provides us with proof of a time that is reversible, of finding ourselves in a space-time outside causality and all that is logical, voluntary and factual. The young woman looks at the gulls without blinking, but they are no longer gulls, nor trees, nor a bourgeois group sitting at a table smoking, they are states of consciousness that take the form of At Land. Maya Deren and her anagrammatic cinema turn vision into a path towards poetic psychogonies that will investigate the power of form in cinema as art. The screen embodies an unconscious where it is possible to meet Alice Guy’s character, the pregnant lady with her desires (Madame a des envies). The desires are satiated with a sequence of phallic forms and the subversion of the gender codes characteristic of the moral prison of the late nineteenth century. The desire is so great that the face of the protagonist floods the screen, creating one of the first close-ups in the history of cinema. The cinematographic language follows the instinct and the desire of the director and flourishes. The fantasies of Germaine Dulac’s La souriante madame Beudet also flourish, when the asphyxiating domestic space is redeemed through the protagonist’s dream; and Marie Menken’s film-diary where she paints nature for herself and her friends, camera and editor in hand (Glimpses of the Garden), is also in full bloom. They are four visions from four essential film-makers who knew how to renew stories, procedures and cinematographic language, without pretension, following their obsessions and their principles and setting up their own production companies to make self-sufficiency the basis of a free and incorruptible cinema. They were pioneers in the strictest sense, feminists in a more humanist than a militant sense, and were accompanied by many accomplices, but always far removed from the camaraderie and archetypes of the official historiography that was often responsible for vainly projecting a string of shadows and doubts over them. But time has swept aside the scepticism and jealousy of those men who zealously promoted an art-of-podiums-and-reverence".

Ingrid Guardiola



Madame a des envies, Alice Guy, France, 1906, 4'
La souriante Madame Beudet, Germaine Dulac, France 1923, 35'
Étude cinématographique sur une arabesque, Germaine Dulac, France, 1929, 7'
At land, Maya Deren, USA, 1946, 15'
Glimpse of the garden, Marie Menken, USA, 1962, 5'