• The Maya Deren Collection Review

    Maya Deren Collection Blu-ray Cover

    Kino Lorber and Re:Voir have partnered to release The Maya Deren Collection on DVD and Blu-ray. Maya (the mother of us all) Deren is one of the most prominent figures in American avant-garde cinema. Does this collection do her career justice? How’s the 2K restoration? Can we finally toss those Mystic Fire Video DVDs in the trash?

    The Films

    All of Deren’s completed films are included in this collection:

    • Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
    • At Land (1944)
    • A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945)
    • Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946)
    • The Private Life of a Cat (1946)
    • Meditation on Violence (1948)
    • The Very Eye of Night (1958)
    • Divine Horsemen (1977)

    I wrote a pretty deep dive into Maya Deren’s work a few years back, so I won’t go too analytical in this review. Meshes is her most well-known film and for good reason, it’s her best. Ritual in Transfigured Time is a very close second for me. Her entire filmography is important and worth watching, though many feel her earlier work is much more watchable and relatable. Her later films tend to be more academic and have very specific meanings impenetrable to those outside her inner circle.

    It’s impressive that Divine Horsemen is included. The footage was shot while Maya was in Haiti between 1947 and 1951, but she was never able to finish the film. This version was completed by Teiji ito and his wife, Cherel, in 1977. While excerpts were included in previous Deren collections, this is the first time it’s been included in its entirety with her other films.