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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Maya Deren: Meditation on Violence (1948)

A 12 minute long movie: a young Asian dancer with bare torso moving on the sound of a Chinese flute, inside an empty room, the sound of a Haitian drum comes in, the flute is vanishing, the man advances toward a terrace, now he is dressed with a tunic and has a sword, some movements of a sword dance; the music stops suddenly while the dancer stays frozen, suspended in a gesture of supreme motion; the music and the movement start again, he goes back inside, again with bare torso, the sound of the flute comes again, the drum is vanishing, the movements are the exact reverse of the first half. The timing is perfect, first half up to the terrace, the second half back from the terrace.

Teiji Ito scored the movie, succeeding the impossible task of mixing the Chinese flute and the Haitian drum, the music of Wudang world of martial arts and the music of Voodoo universe: the mix of two opposite philosophies, the control of each part of your body through constant movement, and the mystical immersion in the halo of Haitian gods. Chao Li Chi was practicing Wudang, Maya Deren was back from Haiti where she had become a Voodoo priestess: the music arranged by Teiji Ito made the synthesis.

Maya Deren's Meditation on Violence is pure cinema: no plot of any way, just basic cinematic art - image and sound meditating myth transfigured in ritual, ritual transfigured in dance - and the myth sublimating the meaning of beauty and violence. Fundamental beauty and fundamental violence, stopped by dance in their potentiality, no more distinct one another. It's doing what cinema should do: to mesmerize, to intoxicate (PolarisDB).

(Maya's Song)

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