Surrealistic Movie Review: Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel’s ‘Un Chien Andalou’ (1929)

27 Jan
2011

The 1929 silent film ‘Un Chien Andalou‘ (which means “An Andalusian Dog”), by Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel, is a surrealistic mixed bag of non-related scenes strung together, that for it’s time was shocking and obscene. Ants crawling out of a man’s palm, a severed hand in the street and another with a man who suddenly starts groping a woman’s chest for no apparent reason.

Does this look familiar to you? Try to think of where you have seen it before.

By today’s standards, the only shocking scene is when a razor is held to a woman’s eyeball and an incision is promptly made. The word mise-en-scène doesn’t apply here whatsoever, it’s a cerebral sort of mess. Picture yourself having a dream. One instance can change drastically to the next with no rhyme or reason. You’re walking in the woods open a door and suddenly you’re in the snowy mountains. This is exactly how Un Chien Andalou plays out. This is no coincidence, for it is said that both Dali and Buñuel came up with the idea for the film after discussing some strange dreams each had had.

Lius Buñuel’s first film is a mere 16 minutes and if you’re into “artsy” films, or are a fan of Dali, you should see it since it’s one of the best-known surrealist films of the avant-garde movement in the 1920′s. If you don’t get the thematic references purposely placed within the film you might still enjoy it. However a chosen few might scratch their head and say “What the hell did I just watch?”

Have you seen Un Chien Andalou? What did you think of the film? Do you know where that moth has been used before?

The following video of live music for the film Un Chien Andalou, is from the Dali at Tate Modern exhibit 2007. The score starts from a single short cell, developing and yet mutating continuously as the characters do. Sergio López Figueroa (the composer) looked back at historical music references from the late 1920`s through expresionism. The final result is an eclectic mix of post-romanticism and Latin jazz elements integrated in a score full of black humour and decadent romanticism. The film plays in the background so here’s your chance to catch a glimpse of it.

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