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Which clippings match 'Surrealist Films' keyword pg.1 of 1
02 OCTOBER 2011

Un Chien Andalou: a masterpiece of surrealist cinema

"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'

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TAGS

1929aggressionAn Andalusian Dog (1929)art film • cut-throat razor • deathdogdreamfilmFreudiangraphic representationinfluential works • interrupted narrative flow • lifeloveLuis BunuellustmasterpiecenakednunRobert HommetSalvador Dalishockingsilent filmSimone Mareuil • slice • slicedSpanish filmspectaclesurrealismsurrealist cinemasurrealist filmssymbolismUn Chien Andalou (1929)violencevisual metaphor

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
14 SEPTEMBER 2008

Dreams That Money Can Buy

"Berlin–born Hans Richter – Dadaist, painter, film theorist and filmmaker – was for four decades one of the most influential members of the cinematic avant–garde. Richter assembled some of the century's liveliest artists as co–creators of Dreams That Money Can Buy, his most ambitious attempt to bring the work of the European avant–garde to a wider cinema audience. Among its admirers is film director David Lynch.

Joe, a young man down on his luck, discovers he has the power to create dreams, and sets up a business selling them to others. The 'dreams' he gives to his clients are the creations of Max Ernst, Fernand Lger, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder and Richter himself, and the result is by turns playful, hypnotic, satirical, charming and nightmarish."

Dreams That Money Can Buy is a film in seven segments namely:
"Desire" Director, Writer – Max Ernst; "The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart" Director, Writer – Fernand Léger; "Ruth, Roses and Revolvers" Director, Writer – Man Ray; "Discs" Director, Writer – Marcel Duchamp; "Ballet" Director, Writer – Alexander Calder; "Circus" Director, Writer – Alexander Calder; "Narcissus" Director, Writer – Hans Richter.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 JULY 2006

UbuWeb: Online Repository of Concrete Poetry

"UbuWeb is a completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant–garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts. All materials on UbuWeb are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights belong to the author(s). UbuWeb is completely free."

(The UbuWeb Editors)

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