The Witch's Cradle

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The Witch's Cradle
Pajorita Matta, The Witch's Cradle (1943).jpg
Pajorita Matta in the film The Witch's Cradle
Directed byMaya Deren
Written byMaya Deren
Screenplay byMaya Deren
Release date
Running time
12 min
CountryUnited States

The Witch's Cradle (1944), sometimes billed as Witches' Cradle, is an unfinished, silent, experimental short film written and directed by Maya Deren, featuring Marcel Duchamp, and filmed in Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery.


The surrealist film shows repetitive imagery involving a string fashioned in a bizarre, almost spiderweb-like pattern over the hands of several individuals, most notably an unnamed young woman (Pajorita Matta) and an elderly gentleman (Duchamp).

The film also shows a shadowy darkness and people filmed at odd angles, an exposed human heart, and other occult symbols and ritualistic imagery which evokes an unsettling and dream-like aura.



The Witch's Cradle was written and directed by experimental filmmaker Maya Deren.[1][2] The film was developed at a comparison between surrealists' defiance of time and space and that of medieval magicians and witches.[3] Deren developed the film over a period of one month, lasting from August to September 1943.[4] However, long after principal photography for the film commenced, she abandoned the project, leaving the film incomplete.[5] Some of the film's outtakes were found and stored at the Anthology Film Archives, while several sequences that were shot appear to be lost. Surviving shots from the film are mostly semi-edited sequences, including one particular sequence that Deren had engineered during post-production to be played backwards.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Haslem, Wendy (12 December 2002). "Great Directors: Maya Deren". Senses of Cinema (23). Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  2. ^ Waldman 1991, p. 248.
  3. ^ Sicherman & Green 1980, p. 187.
  4. ^ a b Keller 2014, p. 56.
  5. ^ Keller 2014, p. 25.


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