The Directory in DK Canada’s The Movie Book is going to provide me with a number of films I’ve never seen, or a chance to revisit old friends. Having said that I’m not sure where Un Chien Andalou fits.
True I had never seen the entire short, running twenty-one minutes, but I feel that everyone with an interest in cinema and film has at least seen the one iconic shot featuring the slicing of an eyeball.
I first saw it in film class, and while stunned by it, I can’t say I was consequently swept up in either Bunuel’s or Dali’s work. Actually watching the short, and seeing it filled with so many surreal shots and moments, I can only think of it as Lynchian.
There’s not a lot to share in terms of storyline, it’s a series of somewhat connected scenes that honestly seem to get increasingly bizarre the further into the short you find yourself.
And while there is sex, blood and violence, it is very much not in the North American tradition, and instead just seems to be fill itself with oddities, symbolism, and asks the viewer to make suppositions, and the occasional educated guess about what something may or may not mean.
It’s a fascinating watch, seeing how the images come together, from a hole in a hand that spills out ants, to a vanishing naked woman following a death, not to mention other things like a severed hand kept in a striped box. There’s so much surrealism going on in this short that I have no doubt that it will be debated over for many years, and people will argue their thoughts and beliefs about context and content.
Strange and bizarre doesn’t begin to cover this film, and you have to wonder how many people came out of the cinema proclaiming they knew what it was about just to impress their fellow theatre-goers.
Dali has since fascinated me, and I think the images he and Bunuel create are something to behold, even if I don’t quite understand what it all means. But much like a Lynchian puzzle, isn’t it better to try and sort it out, and let your own life bring it context and symbolism that suits you?
Check out this one tonight, or pick up a copy of DK Books’ highly enjoyable The Movie Book and find a new to you classic to watch tonight!