Cult Film Friday: ‘Un Chien Andalou’ (1929)

Week 2

Those versed in the art of cinema may recognize “Un Chien Andalou” as the surrealist masterpiece of friends Salvador Dalí and Spanish director Luis Buñuel. This is a pretty bizarre silent film. I say spare yourself the headache and recognize the 16 minute dream-like sequence not as a plot concealed in obscurity, but as something not intended to make any sense, whatsoever. Dalí and Buñuel, in Dadaistic fashion, intended to shock and polarize their audience at a time when cinema was very straightforward, though it resonated with people surprisingly well.

Synopsis: None. Any answer would technically be incorrect.

Surrealism, ahead of its time: I first came across the work of Buñuel after watching a randomly chosen French film called “Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie” (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeois), which is one of his later, more acclaimed works. It’s seemingly more logical, in the sense that we can reasonably analyze why it hardly makes sense. ‘Le Charme’ is a commentary on the superfluous and senseless etiquette of society, religious excess, and the sexual impulses of human beings – points of contention for Buñuel, who felt that the bourgeois was itself illogical and contradictory. He was a man who wanted his work to transcend logic and analysis, to escape the banality of that time. I have to wonder, if “Un Chien Andalou,” created from the dreams of both Dalí and Buñuel, had been explicitly presented as a dream, would people have a different reaction to it? I feel that many stay away from surrealist directors such as Buñuel, or even David Lynch, because we are programmed (unless a conscious effort is made otherwise) to base our interpretations in terms of what is logical. Anything that contradicts that seems manic and disturbing.

Personal Opinion: Well, I happen to love “Un Chien Andalou” for its ability to convey phantasmagorical mystery and sexuality without relying on words or special effects to create that “dreamy” atmosphere. Silent films don’t often capture my attention, but how could you NOT be mortified intrigued by that early visual of the slit eyeball?


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4 responses to “Cult Film Friday: ‘Un Chien Andalou’ (1929)

  1. Pingback: Your First (Blurry) Glimpses of the Omni Hotel Video Fest | Art&Seek | Arts, Music, Culture for North Texas·

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