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Friday, 1 February 2013

The Private Life of A Cat

Griff mentioned in a recent post that I'm a big fan of vintage movies, and I won't deny it. If its black and white and/or features no audible soundtrack then, generally, I'm all over it. Recently, I've been reappraising the work of Alexander Hammid, the Czechoslovakian photographer and film-maker who, along with his wife, the luminously beautiful Maya Deren, became an icon of avant-garde cinema in the US. Both are most well-known for their collaboration on the ground-breaking surrealist movie Meshes of the Afternoon but I wanted to write about another, more domestic, and less famous production that the couple collaborated on, which is once of the most beautifully photographed short films that I've ever seen. 

The film in question is their 1947 production 'The Private Life of A Cat'. This 22 minute, silent movie has a beautifully simple premise - it shows the courting of two cats, the birth of their five kittens, the kittens' gradual maturation and first attempts at exploration and, finally, the moment they grow independent of their doting parents. That may not sound particularly action packed but, the way that Hammid and Deren get intimate shots of the cats and then carefully edit these into a human-like narrative, makes for a genuinely heart-warmig and captivating work of art. See for yourself:

Amazing and touching. Hope you enjoyed it. If you did, you're in luck as I'll probably feature more of Hammid and Deren's work over the next few months.


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