The Witch’s Cradle

The Witch's Cradle Maya Deren. Amateur is a Lover
From 16th September to 27th October | online on MyMovies

The Witch’s Cradle was filmed at the Guggenheim Gallery during the surrealist exhibition “Art of this Century” and it was assembled long after the director’s death by the staff of the Anthology Film Archives.


It was made in 1943 in collaboration with Marcel Duchamp, who appears with actress and protagonist Pajorita Matta: esotericism, the occult world and witchcraft are intertwined, like the string that Duchamp handles.The camera is already a choreographer that follows Matta, who may be playing the role of a witch (or a possessed?) wearing a mark on her forehead with an infinitely repeatable inscription, “The end is the beginning is the end…”, in the evocation of that mysterious and divinatory atmosphere that will also be present in her future films.


The genesis of the film draws certainly inspiration from Deren’s experience, since forever fascinated by the statuses of conscience alteration and interested in the psychic mazes. In Autumn 1939, in fact, she started working for the United States writer William Seabrook, who commissioned her some research about witchcraft. Their collaboration did not last very long and came to an end after a period of stay in the writer’s mansion. As she tells in a letter, Deren was asked to undergo some practices of supposed occultism which upset her quite a lot: among these, that of sitting with legs astride on Seabrook’s “witch’s cradle”, “some sort of medieval chair, very narrow, where the witch apprentices had to stay sit to be able to ride a broomstick”.


In collaboration with Re:Voir Video.


Maya Deren

running time


film format