Filmmaker Maya Deren was truly ahead of her time. Deren was a Ukrainian-born American artist whose contribution to film played an important and early role in the avant-garde. Deren believed that the purpose of the film was to create an experience for the viewer. Her idea of film as an experience is beautifully conveyed in Witch’s Cradle, an occult film she made in 1943. I’m amazed that the striking imagery in this film is from almost 80 years ago, such as the scene of a young woman with a pentagram on her forehead.
Deren died in 1961, aged 44, of a cerebral haemorrhage caused by extreme malnutrition. Her condition may also have been weakened by her long-standing addiction to amphetamines and sleeping pills prescribed by Max Jacobson, a physician and member of the art scene, notorious for his liberal prescription of drugs, which later became famous as one of President John F. Kennedy’s doctors. .
Her ashes were scattered in Japan at Mount Fuji.