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The first 30 or so years of cinema had been about building up techniques. Editing in order to tell a story in a way that is easy for the audience to understand. Bunuel and Dali take these newly formed principles and use the audience's expectations to create something completely surreal and disjointed. It's very jarring and disturbing, rarely has editing been used to such powerful effect. To me this was the first film that put traditional narrative to one side and instead used cinema as a pure artform. What's especially clever is that you're almost able to follow it, but just not quite. Especially for us, so used to traditional cinematic storytelling, it's a jarring experience having your expectations repeatedly thwarted. It's hugely effective.
I mean surreal nothingness in the best sense. I guess one can interpret the film in whatever way one wish. I don't think there is a truly right answer. I go into this without knowing anything about its plot. Quite frankly, there is no plot. It is a series of non-sensical surreal segments that is meant to bend your mind. There is indications of time like "Once upon a time" and "eight years later" but non of that means reality. This is more of a dreamscape that shocks and confuses. It starts with a woman getting her eye can open and the blade slices into the eye. It doesn't take anytime to explain the images. There is something unsettling as well as liberating. I try to decipher this movie for the first 10 minutes but then realize that there is no deciphering. It is simply a movie to be experienced. I also didn't know Salvador Dalí was involved in the movie but it's obvious that he would do something like this.
This famous film starts in a dream-like sequence, a woman's eye (a
cow's eye was actually used) is slit open and juxtaposed with a
similarly shaped cloud obscuring . After that , there take place
several bizarre events such as a man has a hole in the palm from which
ants emerge , it is shown literally ; later on , a man pulls a piano
along with the tablets of the Ten Commandments and a dead donkey and
two priests being dragged with the piano (a priest is Salvador Dalí) ;
a woman pokes at a severed hand in the street with his cane (legend has
it that the severed hand used in the street scene was a real hand, and
Dali convinced a man to cut it off in exchange for enough money to buy
lunch) , among others .
Abstract film that marked strong polemic in the epoch when it was realised , especially its sliced eyeball at the beginning , and still packs a punch even nowadays . In fact , at the Paris premiere, Luis Buñuel hid behind the screen with stones in his pockets for fear of being attacked by the confused audience . After editing the feature , Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí didn't know what to do with it , as an acquaintance introduced Buñuel to Man Ray, who had just finished Les Mystères du château Dé and was looking for a second film to complete the program , the two movies premiered together at the Studio Ursulines ; it made a deep impression on the Surrealist Group, who welcomed Buñuel into their ranks . The movie contains several references to Federico García Lorca and other writers of that time . The rotting donkeys are a reference to the novel "Platero y yo" by Juan Ramón Jiménez, which Luis Buñuel and Dalí hated . In 1960, a soundtrack was added to this film at the direction of Luis Buñuel , he used the same music which was played , using phonograph records , at the 1929 screenings-extracts from "Liebestod" from Richard Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" and two Argentinian tangos.
This rare short belongs to Luis Buñuel's first period and has been voted as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies" . After moving to Paris , Buñuel did a variety of film-related odd jobs , including working as an assistant to director Jean Epstein . With financial help from his mother and creative assistance from Dalí, he made his first film , this 17-minute "Un Chien Andalou" (1929), and immediately catapulted himself into film history thanks to its disturbing images and surrealist plot . The following year , sponsored by wealthy art patrons, he made his first picture , the scabrous witty and violent "Age of Gold" (1930), which mercilessly attacked the church and the middle classes, themes that would preoccupy Buñuel for the rest of his career . That career, though, seemed almost over by the mid-1930s, as he found work increasingly hard to come by and after the Spanish Civil War , where he made ¨Las Hurdes¨ , as Luis emigrated to the US where he worked for the Museum of Modern Art and as a film dubber for Warner Bros . He subsequently went on his Mexican period with "The Great Madcap" , ¨Los Olvidados¨ , ¨The brute¨, "Wuthering Heights", ¨El¨ , "The Criminal Life of Archibaldo De la Cruz" , ¨Robinson Crusoe¨ and many others . And finally his French-Spanish period with notorious as well as polemic films such as ¨Viridiana¨ , Tristana¨ , ¨The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and his last picture , "That Obscure Object of Desire" .
There can't be many films that have polarised public and critical
opinion as much as this one has. Listening to the guy on the commentary
nearly tying himself in knots as he struggled to explain the
significance and symbolism of every moment of this bizarre film, it
occurred to me that maybe Bunuel and Dali had never intended the film
to make sense on any level. Bunuel himself said the film was a
combination of dreams he and Dali had each had, but the guy on the DVD
I wish I could remember his name actually dismissed this, insisting
instead that is a treatise on sexual anxiety and the fear of
castration. To this day the critics still can't agree.
The fact is, the film is so impenetrable and determinedly obscure that anyone with a given amount of intelligence could choose to interpret this film in any way they chose and come up with a pretty convincing argument that theirs is the most plausible theory as to its' meaning. I've heard, in the past, film directors complain that critics try to read to much into their films, and that sometimes what is on the screen is all that there is, that there is no deeper significance than the action taking place in front of our eyes. When I watch a film like this, I sometimes wonder whether the makers are deliberately playing with these critics, and that they collect each pompous theory about its meaning the way a Red Indian collects scalps.
The film is interesting, there's no doubt about that. Surreal, avant-garde, call it what you will Bunuel and Dali certainly knew how to create an eye-catching image, and we'll never know what other absurdities they might have dreamed up together (geddit?) if they hadn't fallen out. Having said that, if it was ten or fifteen minutes longer, I suspect frustration and boredom would have set in. I don't mind having to think while I'm watching a film and I like to think I can understand at least some of what the director is trying to say (although some who have read my comments on this site might think otherwise) but films like this simply can't be analysed in any depth or at any level in one sitting and, quite frankly, having now watched it twice (the second time with that comedy commentary I mentioned earlier) I'm not intrigued enough to want to sit through it again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie truly is a capture of surrealism. It brings out dreams into reality and makes anything possible. The eye scene is the most graphic scene, done as means of a reaction. I cringe every time I see that scene. The scene with ants coming out of the man's hand deals with the idea of surrealism. All these scenes deals with something more than just plain randomness. Directed by Luis Buñuel , the master of surrealism, he provokes a message in the scenes. Also written by Salavdor Dali, one can see the film in an artistic aspect. It is a different film, that really reveals that dreams could be real. I recommend this film if you are interested in something different and creative.
"Un Chien Andalou" (or "An Andalusian Dog," a title which has effectively
nothing to do with the film) is virtually a trailer to Luis Bunuel's entire
career, containing all the themes the surrealist would later tackle in
masterpiece after masterpiece. Actually, that is far from a fair statement.
While "Un Chien" is merely 16 minutes long, it is still exceptionally
artful, even while it is anti-artistic (that is against everything that had
come to be synonymous with art). It is still a delightfully subversive
testament to the possibilities of art; possibilities weighed down by years
of middle class expectations and oppression.
In this, and many other ways, it is a wicked slap to the face of modern right wing sensibilities, and not only formally, but structurally as well. Take the infamous eye-cutting scene for instance. Not only is the content shocking, but the editing. As Bunuel holds the razor to the 's eye, the camera cuts to a shot of a thin cloud bisecting the moon. Conditioned movie audiences will assume this is a metaphor for the eye-cutting, and think they are to be spared the atrocities. But, Bunuel quickly cuts mercilessly to the violent act anyway. In ways like this he infuriates standards set up by typical cinema of every era, and all this back in 1928!
Yet there are still more merits to "Un Chien Andalou," another amazing thing being that it can be at once brilliantly structured and spontaneous, in itself a complete paradox. I can not say that any later film, even in Bunuel's arch, has ever achieved this. So, in this way, "Un Chien Andalou" is the only completely true example of surrealism in film.
I hope this has prompted you to view this film, as I can recommend to it no end. I own a copy and see it quite often, just for a little inspiration until my next viewing. Every time I find it to be fresh and liberating. It is a film that has the retro, razor-blade formula down pat, and I'm just waiting for it to resurface as a major force in pop art and ure. If everyone were to view this film, art would not so often be seen as merely paint and popsicle sticks.
The film 'Un chien Andelou' is an early Bunuel film and is one that
adopts the surrealist style which was very popular for the late
Watching this film is like watching a strange dream that you once had and one that didn't follow any sort of logical story line. This short has many different elements and many time periods in which it takes place.Some parts have a tone which you can follow if you pay attention and some serve no purpose whatsoever. Despite this, the film is really fun to watch. I would suggest this movie to those who are fans of surrealism, Bunuel's work, or looking for something that different than most films. If you look closely you can spot Salvador Dali as a confused priest.
'Un Chien Andalou', the (in)famous collaboration between cinematic
provocateur Luis Bunuel and arch-Surrealist Salvador Dali, is one of
those films that you simply have to see. This is, in part, due to the
singularly unique viewing experience it affords as well as a reflection
of the status it has achieved since it was first shown in 1929.
The story goes that (once upon a time) Bunuel and Dali were having a conversation about some dreams they had recently had (a cloud "cutting" the moon and ants in a hand respectively) which inspired them to make a film loaded with provocative and shocking imagery and a wholly confounding anti-narrative designed to be resistant to rational explanation and to confront the complacency of the audience. To this end, the film can be said to be a complete success as there are, to this day, many who baulk at the absence of a narrative and dismiss the film as an over-hyped joke. At the other end of the spectrum, academics and film theorists have been known to jizz over every frame of the movie and pour hyperbole on top of (sometimes highly strained) critical analysis in an effort to reveal the film's latent meaning.
For my money, while enjoying many of the elaborate academic analyses that the film has inspired, I believe that in addition to an absence of manifest meaning in its lack of traditional narrative I also believe there is no latent meaning lurking under the symbolism. This is because, despite the dream-like appearance of the film, 'Un Chien Andalou' is actually the result of Bunuel and Dali's careful (and employing all their rational faculties) subversion of cinematic conventions to contradict normal notions of temporal cause-and-effect. For example, the eye-line matches of the man in a room watching someone run over in the street and who then subsequently sexual assaults a woman could be a genuine, albeit deviant, cause-and-effect or just as easily, the eye-line matches could have been added randomly. Another example is the seemingly random use of inter-titles which mocks the exposition and back-story we have come to expect from such devices.
The beauty (and presumably the longevity) of the film comes from this ambiguity: any and all interpretations are valid. What is sure is that the film succeeds in its attack on narrative complacency and while it's debatable if there is anything to understand in the film, from both a purely visual perspective and as a self-reflective exercise in perception and the construction of meaning, there is certainly much to appreciate here.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't even imagine what someone in the '20s must have felt when watching this. It's creepy, the after added soundtrack feels like some sort of doomy and eerie. It's a series of disturbing images including of course the famous razor blade across the eye, bugs crawling out of a hand, dead animals and several other things you'd never think you'd see from such an early movie. It's really easy to see Dali's input what with the insects and the style, very surreal indeed. It has the feeling of a train wreck where one can't look away despite the feeling of feeling awful for doing so. Perhaps this has an actual plot, perhaps not but I prefer to not dissect it. I just know it had some of the weirdest images put to film for the time and that it was fascinating to watch.
I think it was Thomas De Quincey who said that if a farmer took opium
he would dream of cabbages and cows. To dream splendidly you need a
splendid imagination. Fortunately Bunuel had that in spades and in Un
Chien Andalou the master invites us into his dreams and it is an
experience one never forgets.
Probably the greatest director of all Bunuel starts his cinema career in the fashion he intends to follow for the rest of his life. This film contains within it the seeds of all his masterpieces to come: Los Olvidados, Nazarin, Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, Diary of a Chambermaid, Simon of the Desert, Belle de Jour, The Milky Way, Tristana, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Phantom of Liberty, That Obscure Object of Desire, all have their roots in this 20-minute film. Bunuel is announcing to the world the birth of a cinematic god. Forget Dali's contribution, it was insignificant, this is pure Bunuel.
If you have any pretensions at all to being a connoisseur of the cinema you must see this film. Nobody can claim to know the movies unless they have seen this. It is quite simply the greatest short film ever made.
Oh yes, the plot. The plot is human life itself. 10/10 although once again the IMDb rating system comes up short. The Godfather may be a 10, Goodfellas a 10, The Shawshank Redemption a 10, Pulp Fiction a 10, but the gap between those movies and An Andalusian Dog is the width of the universe itself. See it or your life will have been wasted.
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