Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Andalusian Dog (Un Chien Andalou) 1928 :(((

Above you see the French and English titles for this 1928 silent directed by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. However, my personal title for this film is: 16 Minutes of Your Life That You’ll Never Get Back.

Another film class must (at least that’s what the professors think); this surrealist film bombards viewers with a cornucopia of shocking images. Viewers are treated to a woman's eye being cut open with a razor blade; a man with a hole in his hand that is filled with ants, who hauls dead donkeys and live priests in grand pianos; severed hands poked at with canes; and, other nonsensical images.

There is no narrative to this film. The images are random and disconnected from one another. I’m sure more artsy people can identify themes in these images, but I have no desire to figure out which one represents love, lust, life, and death. I am not a Freudian and I have no inclination to use free association to decipher what the hell this film is supposed to represent other than avant-garde filmmaking at its height. It does not shock me that the "stars" of this film later committed suicide—one burned herself to death in a public square—because this film could drive anyone crazy.

This is one film that I could easily have done without seeing before my death.


  1. .. I just HAD to look which two got the heavy thumbs down.
    Ah, but it's only 16 mins, we can cope with that..
    Just what I would have done without the cmmentary track etc on the DVD I fortunatly had, I have no idea. Seriously odd stuff this..and the eye.. well I still squirm to think about it, despite the fact I hid behind the (metophorical) sofa for it.
    BUt, as I say, for 16 mins, I coped. As for 'Large door'....

  2. It is an experimental film and they are not meant to be enjoyed and should be painful to endure. The eyeball slit though has just become so iconic though, and it is something to cause squeam when watched on a massive screen.

  3. I was taking a film course about the same time my friend was in art school. We both saw the film in our respective classes. Everyone in my film class hated it while everyone in his art class loved it. Interesting, the different perspectives.

  4. Each film has its lovers and haters/ I suppose it matters through what lens you watch.

  5. I feel that you didn't like this movie because you don't understand it. This is paradoxical, because the movie was made to defy understanding. Let's say that you don't appreciate its context.

    Some films, like An Andalusian Dog, Stranger than Paradise, or Clerks, are known simply for being made in their time period. Clerks and Stranger than Paradise gave low-budget independent American cinema its legs, by virtue of the fact that they were made at all. These films today are wholly unremarkable and, at times, painful to sit through.

    An Andalusian Dog is an experiment in what film can be. Around the 1930s, French Cinema entered its "Golden Age"- the Cinema of Our Fathers that Truffaut would rebel against. It plays on the human brain's need to search for patterns by barraging the viewer with images created seemingly at random (though admittedly, charged with Bunuel and Dali's anti-Christian sentiments). It was a search for a grammar of this new art form, an exercise also performed by Eisenstein, Vertov, Griffith, and later, Tarkovsky, Paradjanov, and to some extent, Kurosawa. An Andalusian Dog answers the question of "What Can Film Be?"

    Movies are more than just realism, which has been adopted as the dominant style (thanks to Edwin S. Porter.) Look at The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Svankmejer's Alice, or even the anime Mind Game. They all have a different aesthetic associated with them, which I believe is the director's attempts to make some sense out of the Go-board that is film.

    I don't ask you to like An Andalusian Dog, but I do ask you to respect it.

    1. You do know I am an expert in French cultural history, right?

      I respect your opinion about An Andalusian Dog, but I don't have to respect a film just because you think I should. I find this film (or experiment) lacking. I suspect Dali nor Bunuel would take it personally. Surrealism is not for everyone--especially me.

  6. yeah the social network is better.
    First, see the movies...

  7. I will admit that I like "The Dog". Not because I understand it because I do not, nor because it represent some finer art that should be respected, but simply because it is totally nuts. I can almost imagine how they dreamed up all those wacky scenes and laughing their butt off when people tried to interpret it. I think people in general take "The Dog" way too seriously. It is actually funny. Bizarre and funny.

    The first time i saw it however I felt exactly like you. What the hell just happened?

  8. I love most of Salvador Dali's paintings. To me, they express his inner nightmares at modern day life. However, I despise this movie. It makes no sense and it's not enjoyable to watch at all. They don't reveal anything about the creators' feelings or ideas. Instead, they just put crap on the screen just for the sake of being "scandalous". What they really should have done was to never make the movie at all. I should have taken your advice before I watched one of my least-favorite movies ever.

    1. Dali was a great painter, but a really bad filmmaker. I suspect many wish they had read this short review before watching the film. LOL