"Dziga Vertov's Man With A Movie Camera is considered one of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era. Startlingly modern, this film utilizes a groundbreaking style of rapid editing and incorporates innumerable other cinematic effects to create a work of amazing power and energy. Film pioneer Dziga Vertov uses all the cinematic techniques available at the time - dissolves, split screen, slow motion and freeze frames."
(Moving Image Archive)
Fig.1 Dziga Vertov (1929). 'Man With A Movie Camera', VUFKU (The Ukrainian Photo and Cinema Administration).
"Acclaimed as a surrealist masterpiece, Un Chien andalou aggressively disconnects itself from narrative flow. The creators of this short film. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, fully intended there to be no links between successive scenes. Fortunately this didn't inhibit their dreaming up of some of the most striking moments ever to be projected upon the silver screen. The opening focuses on a man (Luis Buñuel) stropping his cut-throat razor, honing it to a perfect edge. Stepping onto the balcony, he gazes at the moon. This celestial orb is instantly replaced with a woman and, enlarging rapidly, her left eye. The bare blade then descends on her unprotected pupil, a graphic incident.
Designed to shock, which it still does almost 70 years later, quick editing removes the image before it has time to fully sink in. Suddenly the viewer is faced with a nun-like figure weaving uncertainly down the road on a bicycle. There is no bridge to the previous horror, although this mysterious person does provide a number of objects which resurface at odd intervals. Later there is the unusual sight of a man (Robert Hommet) hauling two grand pianos, each stuffed with the putrefying remains of a donkey, as he trudges towards a cowering woman (Simone Mareuil). He is also unfortunate enough to have a hole in his hand, where the ants live. None of this is significant.
A marvellous aspect of something as wilfully bizarre as Un Chien andalou is that almost any interpretation can be drawn from the images shown. Perhaps every single scene is random and unconcerned with any other, although Buñuel certainly seems to have included items which are present throughout the film. In some ways the repeated glimpses of these things in situations where they shouldn't be adds to the confused feel, enhanced by the off-putting and nonsensical time-markers deployed.
The eternal themes of life, death, lust and love are thrown up at various points, although there is no framework on which to attach these emotions. This is of no consequence though as Buñuel has already hurried onto the next sequence, violently cutting so that the desired woman becomes naked in a flash - a picture of what are ardent suitor really sees. Un Chien andalou does not require such deep analysis though, being much more a film which should be purely experienced. It achieves that which Buñuel and Dalí aimed for and, with a live music accompaniment, is unstoppable."
(Damian Cannon, 1997)
Fig.1 Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí (1929). 'Un Chien andalou'
"The failure of the early surrealist films to communicate the mystery and beauty of life that they sought to express was largely due to an attempt to translate or find equivalences for written language in images or visual language. Artaud alone had an original vision of what cinema should be, but lacked the means to implement it.
--lt is futile to look for an equivalent of written language in visual language -such a translation from one idiom to another is foredoomed to failure. The essence of the visual language should be so presented, and the action should he such that any translation would be out of the question: the visual action should operate on the mind as an immediate intuition'. Antonin Artaud, Preface to 'The Seashell and the Clergyman'."
(Elisabeth H. Lyon)
Elisabeth H. Lyon. "Luis Bunuel: The Process of Dissociation in Three Films," Cinema Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1. (Autumn, 1973), p. 47
Fig.1 Germaine Dulac (1926). 'La Coquille et le Clergyman'
"Doesn't a picture that declares, ''This is not a pipe,'' undercut our expectation that representation will give us the thing - in this case, the pipe - itself? The difficulty it presents is no accident. Magritte was perhaps unique among the visual artists of this century in the depth of his philosophical lore. Another of his pipe dreams contains a depiction of a pipe on a blackboard under which ''This is not a pipe'' is inscribed in a schoolmasterly hand. Floating above the blackboard Magritte depicts a kind of Platonic pipe. By virtue of its disproportionate size and free-floating dislocation, this utopian pipe is made to seem a mirage, while the depiction of a pipe, comfortably ensconced in its frame, enjoys a higher ontological dignity. The superficial contrast between the flat, two-dimensional blackboard pipe and the Platonic or transcendental overpipe is subverted, and it dawns on us that it is the picture of the pipe that we know, not the pipe in itself."
(Flint Schier, 23 January 1983, The New York Times)
Fig.1 La Trahison des images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe), 1929; Fig.2 René Magritte - Die zwei Mysterien, 1966, "Die Pfeife ist keine Pfeife", (Ceci n'est pas une Pipe)