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Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel made this crazy abstract film in the twenties. Even by today's standards is extremely out there. Legend has it, that Bunuel brought rocks in his pockets to the premier in case the audience attacked him. Considering how potent the film was for it's time, this wasn't a bad idea. The film makers are known to laugh when they heard that critics were trying to analyse.This film is not meant to be interpreted. It should not be applied to Freudian analytical categories or any other forms of psychology. The film is strictly experimental, and explores new cinematic territory. I will not think about this film much more than I already have, for it is basically unapproachable, it will remain in my cinematic knowledge and experience, but it will not be one of the films that I treasure most.
All comments seem to assume that the images are totally random, designed
only to shock, and without any symbolic value. Recalling that Freud was a
dominant force in 1929 when this film was made, and Freud was a great
influence on at least the Dali half of this collaboration, I'm not at all
sure that aspects of Freud's dream theories (basically, wish fulfilment)
are not well represented here. The attempt to attack the woman (the
mother?) is thwarted when the man picks up ropes attached to two grand
pianos and two priests (the weight of culture and religion?); this would
seem to represent the superego. Ants crawling out of a hole in a man's
hand--masturbation guilt? Later a man whose face is never seen
punishes a young man--just like the all-powerful Freudian father. A young
man looks at a women and his mouth grows pubic hair. Symbolic elements--a
tie and collar, a severed hand--are placed in a box (the hand put there by
cop), suggesting repression. Another scene blatantly portrays sibling
murder. There seems to be a lot of sexual confusion: the man on the
with his maid's dress over a man's suit, the boyish woman playing in the
street with the severed hand. The logic of the film is not sequential--as
Bunuel constantly emphasizes with his random time intervals--but based on
free association. One image leads to another.
This is not to suggest that there is some sort of coherent Freudian story line here. But many of the elements of Freudian dream theory--the Oedipus situation, displacement, repression, pleasure principle pitted against the reality principle, etc., etc.--are well represented.
This little movie works so well with music.
The Video I rented came with some drab classical music that was horrible.
It goes best with silly up beat pop type music. I watched it to an CD by a band called Stereo Total. This worked for me because all the lyrics are in French and there for I couldn't understand a word, plus it lent the right air of Euro trashness. I bet Japanese pop would work just as well though, unless you speak Japanese. If you have little ones try using Brittany Spears or in N'Sync as a sound track, this is a good way to expose young people to the magic of moving pictures.
I ate pizza too, but Im not so sure this worked out so well. I think it would have been better with bean and bacon tacos.
No, on second thought I think its more of a desert movie. A good dose of sugar should accompany it ( but be careful with the hypoglycemic little ones). I got a lollie pop with a scorpion in it as a novelty gift from a candy store when I was on vacation in San Francisco. I think I will eat it the next time I watch Un chien andalou.
1929: Un chien andalou comes out. In the same year, the stock market crashes
and economies collapse. Coincidence? Almost certainly. At any rate, this
little snippet of celluloid is one of the more interesting experiments in
If you came upon this film, it is probably for you. See it, by all means. Do not even attempt to read a plot into it. At every point when the action seems to point in some plausible direction, Bunuel and Dali are sure to veer off into scenes of no direct consequence. Simply grab on to it with your mind and ride off into a sunset of raspberry-flavored lampposts and zoot suits clothed in fish.
(And if it irritates you ... hell, what else would you have done with those sixteen minutes of your life anyway?)
`Un Chien Andalou' meets the definition of avant-garde cinema in that
it contains both radical content and radical form. The film opens with a
scene that will live forever in infamy. From the intense opening sequence,
the film exists to shock its viewers and hold them within its grip until
very end. We begin with a shot of a man sharpening a razor as he slits the
eye of the film's female protagonist. In addition, Bunuel juxtaposes this
scene with a shot of a full moon as a cloud slowly passes by. What we have
here is a metaphor, using a montage style of editing, that shows the shot
the cloud passing the moon and represents the shot of the man slicing the
eyeball. However, Bunuel completely disregards this metaphor that he
elaborately shows us and with `renewed expressiveness of image,' shows us
the eyeball being hacked open anyway. By breaking the tradition of the
metaphor in this scene, Bunuel is breaking the barriers of filmmaking and
Dulac puts it he is `search(ing) out new emotional chords.' By showing the
man (played by Bunuel himself) slicing the eyeball open, perhaps this scene
is a metaphor for how Bunuel is going to change the way you, as the viewer,
look at movies. By destroying the eye, the film is showing how Bunuel is
destroying the traditions of film entirely and how we perceive it. This in
itself makes `Un Chien Andalou' avant-garde.
One of the key elements that contributed to the avant-garde technique of this film, was the absence of any discernible story line. Bunuel was not trying to entertain with his film. He wanted to exceed anything that had already been accomplished or attempted in the art of filmmaking. Concerned only with art, he probably needed to forget everything that he had learned about filmmaking in order to create such a radical film. To do this Bunuel had to manipulate the traditional approaches of the visual and auditory realm in the film medium. He accomplished this by his manipulation of space and time throughout the movie. `Un Chien Andalou' sporadically shifts from various times and to various sets with neither any expectancy nor any real explanation. This broke many of the traditional styles of typical narratives at the time it was made. The film's narration style, that constantly involves shifting from place to place, is now not in uncommon style of narrative in the films of today.
`Un Chien Andalou' was created on the theory that `nothing symbolizes anything." This theory is quite interesting when we try to examine the film's aesthetics, particularly in the areas of image, sound, and editing as they relate to the films visualized goals. How can we make a rational argument out of something that was intended to be completely irrational? The film is composed of nothing more than just a multitude of strange images but yet we can't help but praise it. Why is this? The film uses images of violence, nudity, and just pure absurdity at times to draw an emotion out of the viewer. It might be best to not examine what this film is trying to say with the images it presents you with, but rather how it is presenting you with these images. For example, my initial reaction when viewing this film was filled with several in depth readings with regard to the meaning of several scenes. The English translation of the title for example, `Andalusion Dog' puzzled me. I interpreted the meaning of this title to hold relation in the way that the main character behaves like an animal in his relations to the female in the film. However, when I discovered that the film was not intended to be read into with much detail, I suddenly faltered on praising my interpretation. Instead, I chose to look at not what the film showed, but rather how it showed it. This is where I discovered what I felt to be the true artistic genius of `Un Chien Andalou.' Within the stylistics of the film, lies the true beauty. The film bombards the viewer with many images that seem only to have meaning in a metaphorical aspect. This keeps the viewer on their toes as they desperately try to keep up with the frenetic qualities of the film. In doing so, they become confused, their minds flooded with numerous images all containing forcible iconic meanings. However, `Un Chien Andalou' doesn't allow this and before we know it, the analytical viewer can't keep up. They stop feeling concerned for any denouement of a plot and become lulled into the dream that film actually is. Viewers stop questioning the film's expressiveness because it has no expressiveness. They simply watch the imagery presented to them and take it in, not feeling obligated to question it.
Bunuel manages to break all the traditions of a conventional film in `Un Chien Andalou.' His use of imagery and sound builds a hypnotic film that breaks free of any restraint of plot or meaning. The result is something truly surreal. Bunuel established a new level of filmmaking in `Un Chien Andalou' by using an unconventional subject matter and presenting it in a very unconventional way. He absolves all tradition and created a film that truly attacks the mind as whole, this is the epitome of avant-garde cinema.
Un chien andalou is a movie aiming to attack it's viewers beliefs and view
of the world. According to Bunuel it was "a desperate call for murder" , a
surrealistic look at a corrupted society, its representatives and the power
of passion. The first scene gives the tone for the rest of the movie by
acclaiming its purpose, which is to
destroy the viewer's self-indulgent look at the world.The symbols are
shocking (ants and dead donkeys depicting decay,
the piano - a sign of sick sentimentality ,a man speaks with his oppressive
image, books transformed to revolvers, the chimera of a woman) and due to
the fact that their interpretation is not univocal ,
bunuel manages with the intuitional power of his art to reveal his vision
for a world where the "phantom of liberty" has become a reality.
The Pixies said it best when they sang about this film ... "got me a movie... slicing up eyeballs ... don't know about you, but I am un chien andalou... wanna grow up to be a debaser" I love this film. The first, and greatest tribute to surrealist cinema (Dali painted, Bunuel wrote and did collage - I think). To understand true surrealism ... and the development of it that lead to David Lynch ... one has to see this film!
You have to admire the temerity of Buñuel and Dali to create this piece of material circa 1928 when it was going to cause an outrage in that taboo period. Buñuel actually took stones to the premiere to throw at the critics. I have recently watched two sonorised versions with different soundtracks, the original, and one by Mauricio Kagel, which I prefer. It includes a growling menacing dog which is appropriate for this film because it's like the man is imposing himself on the woman like a mean dog and she repels him. It is a very accomplished piece of work for that era, well crafted and showed the promise of Buñuel, which turned out to be legendary. A magnificent landmark and watershed of artistic film-making.
"Watching The Andalusian Dog and Thinking of My Wife"
No need to take a razor blade and sever her eyeball, she recognizes my double nature-- the victim on the bicycle, the sniper in the window.
I am the madman who wears the dark suit. Ants crawl from the hole in my hand. I drag my burden through the apartment: monkey-filled piano, dead mule, chanting priests. She flees through a door into another room and lays a white clown suit neatly on the bed.
I am the lover who dies and returns- struggle, death, rebirth. Holding hands, we stroll on the beach in springtime.
This is a 'film' that represents the high point of the Surrealist
movement. It was not designed to have a 'narrative', or 'plot'. As Mark
Twain would say, "Anyone who finds a moral in it will be shot." In
fact, in the scene of the man leaning with his head against the wall,
the next inter-title says 'Sixteen years earlier,' and he's still
leaning there in the same suit! So much for a narrative and plot!
How can you give it a rating? As Stephen Barber says on the audio commentary, surrealism was all about clashing images to tear the fabric of culture... to challenge and provoke... a collision of images exacted on the eye -- and in this case, Bunuel and Dali could do it literally. As experimenters they are using the moving image to give fluid motion to the Surrealist attack and offer compulsory dreams and hallucinations. You don't see film making like this until the 1960s and 70s!
When I first saw it as a college student, all I remembered was the eye slitting sequence, and then the man pulling the two dead donkeys on pianos. Looking at the film now, and psychedelicizing myself to think outside the box, that is, just being open to the clash of images, it seems to show a constant and rapidly moving succession of images about sex and death.
Bingo! says Bunuel's son, Juan-Luis on a DVD interview. He talks about the symbology of the man pulling the two pianos: "The man wants to have sex with the woman, but the 10 commandments (on his back), the two pianos (his art), the dead donkeys (his fear of death) and the two priests (his ethics) are holding him back." Bunk! says Juan-Luis! His father and Dali were just doing their Surrealist thing to challenge the audience by assaulting them with images.
Artaud, like Chaplin and others of the time, rejected the idea of sound in films, but for different reasons. For Artaud, it would dilute the violence of surrealist cinema. Therefore, there has never been another film like this one!
It still shocks us today, even after so many years of gross-out horror movies, because like the shower scene in 'Psycho' (1960), it uncompromisingly zeroes in on the fact of death itself. But also life, love and sex. Any rating means nothing except, does it accomplish its intended purpose? Yes. It assaults us and is well edited and intellectually provoking. I give it a ten.
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