maya deren at land analysis

Beginning my personal analysis of ‘At Land’,the waves mean that Maya is being dragged away from her own life. When she wakes up in the beach again, she has the opportunity of starting all over again, as the water represents a new start. As we see the waves in a reverse motion, they look like a carpet, as she was privileged to start again. As she climbs the rocks on the beach, the transition of the wild to the table means a transition in our own life: when we stop being children and get in the social world. But as we can see for her position, there’s a moment in between –the teenage years, when we’re stuck in the middle of both scenarios.

As she appears for the first time at the top of the table, we can see her curious look, as if everything there is new, and she’s about the discover this world. Also, at the same time we see her crawling through the table, we can see some shots of her walking through bushes, what means she still not noticing this new world as an adult. The people at the table don’t seem to care about her, as if she wasn’t even there. That’s because she’s not a part of the society yet. When she reaches the other side of the table, her transition to the adult world is complete.

That’s when we see the chess piece for the first time: it represents the beginning of the social game. The man who was controlling the chess game at first is a representation of the paternal figure. He is the one who controls our place in this world until we’re old enough. When she reaches the board, she’s not only a viewers, as she were as kids, but now she’s active on this board. The pieces move without anyone touching them, because we can never have full control of our role, our representation and the social game continues even if we try not to be a part of it.

The moment she tries to grab one of the chess pieces and it falls from the board, is like she’s seeking for her identity, but can never reach it. Then, we’re at the wild again. But this time, she’s walking between rocks, trying to reach the chess piece. It represents a moment of doubt, where she wonders if it would be better to come back to the childhood. But unfortunately, that’s not possible. As she accepts her role and keeps looking for the chess piece, we can see her walking with a man, what means she’s completely dragged to the adult world.

The moment she starts walking with the man, who changes 4 times, it represents the love life. When we enter the adult world, our main relation is with the opposite sex, and Maya symbolized this commitment as they were walking together through a road. When she gets in the house, it represents the end of the love relationship. The man lying in the bed is a representation of love. He still awake, and seems to be really attentive to Maya. That’s what happens when we break up: although the relationship no longer exists, all the memories, and the representation that the two have about each other are still very vivid.

The moment she comes back to the beach, climbing down the mountain, it’s like she’s returning to her origins, descending from her social role. It’s her elderly years. At this time of life, it’s like we came back to our childhood: no more role playing, no more social commitments, and no more strings. When she see the women playing chess, she understand that we only have fully control of who we are at the end of our journey, but then it doesn’t really matter: they don’t seem to be ecstatic to know how to play the game, they seem calm and peaceful.

For me, they represent other generations of Maya’s family, as she has an affective tie with them. That’s the late moment in life where we understand our roots and from where we come from, that’s when we understand our role. When she finally gets the chess piece, it means that she finally understood her place in the society. But it’s not important anymore. She already lived her life, and that’s what really matters. We can see the different stages of her life, and then she running around the beach, because that’s her final destiny.

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