Experimentation in Cinema: three movies to explore

Remy D. Clark
3 min readDec 6, 2023

Cinema, as an art form, continually embraces experimentation, pushing boundaries and challenging norms. Three remarkable films stand as beacons of inspiration for emerging filmmakers, offering unique insights into the possibilities of cinematic expression.

Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon”

Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon” released in 1943, stands as an exemplary work in experimental cinema, utilizing fragmented narratives and symbolic imagery to delve into the subconscious. This American short experimental film directed by Maya Deren and Alexandr Hackenschmied. The film, starring the wife-and-husband team, holds cultural and historical significance, earning a place in the United States National Film Registry in 1990. As the film is in the public domain, it stands as an accessible piece for audiences. The narrative unfolds over a duration of 13 minutes and 48 seconds, presenting a surreal and dreamlike sequence of events. The protagonist, played by Maya Deren, encounters a mysterious hooded figure with a mirror for a face while navigating her surroundings. As she falls asleep in her chair, the film delves into a dream where she repeatedly attempts to chase the elusive figure but is unable to capture it. The film employs creative editing, distinct camera angles, and slow-motion techniques to blur the boundaries between reality and the dream world. As the woman attempts to confront and understand the dream’s symbolism, the narrative intensifies, leading to a climactic realization. In a surreal twist, the man (played by Alexandr Hackenschmied) in the story becomes intertwined with the dream, blurring the lines between reality and the subconscious. The film concludes with a striking image of the man witnessing a broken mirror being dropped onto wet ground, followed by the discovery of the woman in the chair, previously asleep but now lifeless.

A pivotal facet of cinematic experimentation is evident in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” released in 2001, is a cinematic puzzle that employs non-linear storytelling and surreal imagery to subvert traditional narrative structures. This surrealist neo-noir mystery film was written and directed by David Lynch. The storyline revolves around Betty Elms, an aspiring actress portrayed by Naomi Watts, who arrives in Los Angeles. Betty befriends an amnesiac woman, played by Laura Harring, recovering from a car accident. The film unfolds through a series of vignettes involving various characters, including a Hollywood film director played by Justin Theroux. “Mulholland Drive” weaves a complex narrative that blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy, offering a mysterious and atmospheric exploration of the Hollywood dream.

“Get Out,” a 2017 American psychological horror film, marks Jordan Peele’s directorial debut as it skillfully blends genres to explore profound societal issues.. The movie features a cast including Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Lil Rel Howery, LaKeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, and Catherine Keener. The plot revolves around a young black man, portrayed by Kaluuya, who unravels disturbing secrets upon meeting the family of his white girlfriend, played by Williams. The success of “Get Out” is attributed to its skillful blend of horror elements with profound societal commentary, particularly on racism. Jordan Peele’s directorial prowess and the stellar performances of the cast contribute to the film’s acclaim. Both a critical and commercial triumph, “Get Out” stands as a noteworthy cinematic achievement, leaving a lasting impact on audiences and the film industry alike.

These three films, each a masterpiece in its own right, showcase the power of experimentation in cinema and I hope you enjoy them.

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Remy D. Clark

Born in France, Remy has a strong passion for independent filmmaking and underground art activities. He lives in San Diego, where he works in film production.