Like with mental illness itself, Mer Depré isn't always easy to fully comprehend
by Martin Hafer
Mer Depré is not the sort of short film that you'd typically get the chance to see. In many ways, it's like a throwback film from the 1920s and 30s when folks like Man Ray, Luis Buñuel and Ralph Steiner made experimental avant-garde shorts which were not intended in any way for mass consumption. Instead, they were strange art films which were more attempts to merge art and film--the sorts of films you might see played in art museums instead of local theaters. It seems that Margaret Orr's experiment was made in order to obtain her MFA degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and normally such projects are rarely seen outside an academic or art house setting.
Like the avant-garde films, there is no real traditional narrative nor are there any actors -- just sound and images on the screen. Much of it was done using the old scratched film technique where a pin or needle literally is dragged across the image in order to create shapes and designs. Additionally, you'll see blobs of color and interesting and well-timed sound effects. No story...but also no real attempt to tell one. Just a chance for Orr to show off her tremendous skills and provide a weirdly mesmerizing and unusual viewing experience. If you enjoy such films, you might also try finding the DVD set "Unseen Cinema" and you'll possibly be surprised that Orr's film would fit very nicely into this collection of early 20th century films.
The trailer below has pull-quotes from other writers that talk about depression. Well, I frankly think that what all this means -- if anything at all -- is purely in the eye of the beholder. Similar to individual perceptions one gets from looking at a painting. One person might see depression, another might have a reaction that has absolutely nothing to do with this. Interestingly, with my background as a mental health therapist, I didn't get depression at all and don't think there is a correct interpretation of the film ... it just is. If you enjoy such films, you might also try seeking out the DVD set "Unseen Cinema," and you'll possibly be surprised that Orr's short would fit very nicely into this collection of early 20th century films.
Mer Depré Trailer from Margaret Orr on Vimeo.