The experimental short film Meshes of the Afternoon explores the concept of a subconscious mind by unveiling one’s true self. Through the use of different techniques, such as multiple versions of the protagonist on screen, point-of-view shots, and symbolism of mirrors, the film is able to express how the unnamed protagonist sees herself, pulling her views from her subconscious mind into reality, resulting in her death.
Throughout the film, the same sequence of the woman chasing a hooded figure and entering a house is shown. The first time the woman wanders into the house, she falls asleep and begins to dream of watching herself re-entering the house, repeatedly. Yet, each time she goes into the house, something new happens and her duplicates begin to gather. By incorporating the many protagonists accumulating in the house, as the dream somewhat recycles itself, it shows the different sides of the woman. The women that came from the protagonist’s subconscious reveal various sides of her true personality, represented by the different experiences each of them have in the house. These “duplicates” are what make up her subconscious mind, and each time they enter the house, the dreaming woman realizes who she really is. After discovering her true nature, the protagonist is completely destroyed. This then causes her to not be able to live with who she really is, leading to her subconscious banding together to end her life.
As the protagonist enters the house, the audience begins watching through her perspective. By shooting the scene through the woman’s point of view, the viewers are able to experience what she sees while entering the house. Including the misplaced items, as well as grasping what the protagonist feels. This connects the audience and the protagonist, allowing them to develop the same reactions. By enabling the audience to see from her point of view, they are able to delve into her mind and begin to discover the protagonist’s true self with her, for the first time.
Mirrors repetitively appear throughout the film, symbolizing the woman’s reflection on herself. As the film progresses, the amount of mirrors increase to represent how her true nature is gradually coming about. For example, the woman sees the masked figure as someone who is dangerous and villainous. However, the whole time the figure had a mask made out of a mirror. While looking at its face, the woman would be able to see herself in the mirror, showing herself as monstrous. Even as the dream develops, it is shown that she is the masked figure. In this case the mirror is a symbol that what she is most afraid of is her true nature. Towards the end of the film, the symbolism of the mirror appears again when the woman tries to kill her husband, and all that is left are shattered pieces of mirror being washed up by the ocean. Right after, it is shown that the woman actually killed herself with those pieces from the mirror. Because the pieces were washed up on shore, it’s as if the way she sees herself as being washed away since she has ended her own life.
The film Meshes of the Afternoon uses visual artistic techniques to portray a film that has no real linear narrative structure, thus making it experimental. Through the use of these different methods, including the protagonist multiplied throughout her dream, various point-of-view shots, and mirrors as a symbol for reflecting on oneself, the film dives into the concept of a subconscious mind and the negative effects that can be implemented on one’s self.