End Of The Week Shorts #9 extract: Ensemble For Somnambulists (1951)
Ensemble For Somnambulists is an unofficially published film of Maya Deren's that was shot as a test or practice for a later film - which is formally very similar - The Very Eye Of Night
This is then a completely mesmerising short that uses negative photography to project dancers moving about in a dark void - all edited together to give this ambiguous space a strong sense of rhythmic and fluid cohesion.
The most compelling element of Ensemble For Somnambulists, however, is the formal link between the opening, lights shining in darkness, and the rest of the narrative: humans shining in the darkness. This poetic juxtaposition speaks volumes about a lot of Deren's work, which is often imbued with a sense of motion equal to a dance. This then says that there is something attractive and striking, to Deren's eye, about the moving human form on celluloid; something worth capturing - something she certainly does in purely astounding ways, time and time again.