Wednesday, 24 June 2009


No 354 – Un Chien Andalou
Directors – Louis Buñuel & Salvador Dali

Much like The Red Shoes and King Kong, this is a film which is rooted in my memories of MOMI. There they had a small display to Dali in film, with stills and props from both Vertigo and Un Chien Andalou.
Ever since that point I have wanted to watch it with a vigour that was only strengthened when I found out that a bull’s eye is slit open.

So I sat down to watch this epic piece of surrealist cinema. All 15 minutes of it!
(Hell... the film is so old it is public domain - download it and watch it yourself)

As if to make sure I’m not just waiting for the eye slitting, the film begins with a razor being sharpened, a ladies head being held back and WHAM! Eye slitting, and yucky eye goo all over the shot.

The rest of the film seems to follow a wooden box which appears in a number of events. There appear to be two reoccurring characters. A man and a woman. Although the character of the man appears in two guises, a good man who falls off his bike and then grows into clothes placed on a bed and a bad man who has ants on his hand.
We know that he is bad because he tries to molest the woman and turns into a zombie. The woman’s breasts turn into a bare bottom and her armpit hair ends up forming a beard for the man.
(I just read up on wikipedia that there are four characters The Wife, The Husband, The Lover, The Detective – and the story is an affair…. But I didn’t see that initially)

I was going to say that the film is just a series of surreal incidents but that seems a bit redundant as it is the work of two surrealist directors. But there are moments that feel quite Lynchian (a young boy pokes a dismembered hand with a stick, silent statue-esque torsos grow out of a beach) and moments that are just inexplicable (the man drags two grand pianos, each with a dead donkey tied to it and a confused priest tailing behind).
Each of these moments are interrupted with cards telling the passage of time. It becomes clear as the cards try to send us to the past that they have nothing to do with the story.

I’m sure that there is a lot going on that I don’t understand in this film and it isn’t just weirdness following a slit eye. However, with surrealism we can never be sure…

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