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167 - Un Chien Andalou 
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Post 167 - Un Chien Andalou
A surreal experience

In 1929 Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali teamed to make this 20 minute short. Their friendship would collapse afterwards and they would not team up again.

The famous shot is an eyeball being sliced by a razor blade. But there's much more. It's hard to write about this film as it's stuffed with sequences that have no relationship and are abstract in the extreme. It's clearly experimental.

I watched it with and without the commentary and had to conclude that I could admire but not be engaged by this work. I'm glad I've seen it and would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of cinema. But not much more.

I've seen five Bunuel's and none of them have completely won me over.

Exterminating Angel will be next

7/10
Rob


Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:18 am
Cinematographer

Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 6:19 pm
Posts: 601
Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
Robert Holloway wrote:
The famous shot is an eyeball being sliced by a razor blade.
Rob


I remember seeing a still from this scene in a book about film I was reading as a teen. It remains the most disturbing image I have stored within my brain after more than 30 years have gone by.


Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:25 pm
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Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
I think the film is kind of a masterpiece, I'd evaluate on that at this moment but I'll wait.


Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:07 pm
Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
Legend has it that the eyeball scene was deliberately placed near the beginning of the film. By shocking the people in the audience so badly early on, Bunuel and Dali calibrated them to accept the series of comparatively innocuous images that follow. The razorblade and the eyeball have since become my favorite metaphor for cinematic devices that serve a similar purpose.

The intriguing thing about Un Chien Andalou isn't that it's intended to be a collage of images with no meaningful connection. It's that most people (if not all) find themselves formulating meaning from it anyway.

P.S. Just how in the hell do you rate this film on a numerical scale, anyway? In most cases, I still can't fathom how linear values apply to cinematic experiences, but this is one case in particular that really baffles me.


Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:38 am
Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
Ken wrote:
The intriguing thing about Un Chien Andalou isn't that it's intended to be a collage of images with no meaningful connection. It's that most people (if not all) find themselves formulating meaning from it anyway.


And it is there where you find one of the main purposes of the film. From one of Ed Gonzalez's (Slant Magazine) best reviews, "Can there be any spectacle more terrible than the sight of a cloud obscuring the moon at its full? The prologue can hardly have one indifferent. It tells us that in this film we must see with a different eye," said director Jean Vigo (L'Atalante) of Un Chien Andalou in his 1930 review of the film for Vers un Cinéma Social. With Vigo's words in mind, it's easy to see why some think the film signals the birth of cinema.

The juxtaposition of visual, audio, and theoretical associations is immediately jarring in the film's nefarious "once upon a time" prologue. First, the opening chords of a romantic tango (though originally silent, Un Chien Andalou's famous images would later be cued to Richard Wagner's "Liebestod" from the opera "Tristan und Isolde"). A man, perhaps a barber (Buñuel himself), smokes a cigarette while sharpening the blade of a razor. He steps onto a balcony and stares at an unobscured moon before prying open woman's eyelid. A cloud slides across the face of the moon as Buñuel's razor cuts into the woman's eye. (Though an actual calf's eye was used, as noted by critic Roger Ebert, "legend has transformed it into a pig.") A confrontational Buñuel demands that we look at the world with what Vigo calls "a new set of eyes." Stop looking and you are coward."

The rest of his review is here.


Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:03 am
Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
Ken wrote:
Legend has it that the eyeball scene was deliberately placed near the beginning of the film. By shocking the people in the audience so badly early on, Bunuel and Dali calibrated them to accept the series of comparatively innocuous images that follow. The razorblade and the eyeball have since become my favorite metaphor for cinematic devices that serve a similar purpose.

The intriguing thing about Un Chien Andalou isn't that it's intended to be a collage of images with no meaningful connection. It's that most people (if not all) find themselves formulating meaning from it anyway.

P.S. Just how in the hell do you rate this film on a numerical scale, anyway? In most cases, I still can't fathom how linear values apply to cinematic experiences, but this is one case in particular that really baffles me.



Ken

Rating films is ultimately pointless, but I feel the need.
Its all about emotional impact for me

I was not wowed by the movie but liked it alot intellectually and quite a bit emotionally.

Rob


Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:30 am
Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
I saw this recently. It's a catalog of techniques and memorable images but it's hardly a 'great movie' as it's barely a movie at all. The exercise itself is interesting and there is every reason to watch and discuss why the film does what it does. We watched La Jetée around the same time and it had the same detached quality but had an actual story to tell. Un Chien Andalou was easier to appreciate as a photography test reel than a movie so it's odd but unsurprising that it would place at #167 on some list. It sure seems like it must be vital and important.


Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:34 pm
Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
Alexander

There are quite a few experimental movies in the top 1000

I don't stress over the rankings and have found many films in the 100-200 group that i think merit higher placement.

One thing is for sure. As a whole it's a remarkable group of films.

Rob


Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:58 pm
Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
Alexander James wrote:
it's barely a movie at all.
If you're going to get away with this, you must first define what a movie is and describe how Un Chien Andalou might not fit in with that definition.


Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:11 pm
Post Re: 167 - Un Chien Andalou
Ken wrote:
The intriguing thing about Un Chien Andalou isn't that it's intended to be a collage of images with no meaningful connection. It's that most people (if not all) find themselves formulating meaning from it anyway.


Precisely. The film works as this sort of experiment and it results in a puzzling experience while watching, and a rewarding one to analyze afterwards. The film is essentially a filmed dream. People love attempting to find some kind of meaning in dreams. Often dreams have meaning on a subconscious level, but just as often they are a series of unrelated images that your brain is getting rid of for one reason or another. Un Chien Andalou is the latter, yet it's in our nature to treat it as the former. The film is essentially a manifesto of sorts for the surrealist movement in art. Time is an illusion. The movie is filmed thoughts - pure and not influenced by morals or attitudes or anything else. It's supposed to be the "real" way of thinking. In short, it's truth (I don't know if I believe all of this, but that is surrealism in a nutshell).

Another interesting thing about the film is that I've read that Bunuel intended the short to be a kind of "Fuck you" to the middle/upper class who were intent on finding meaning in art. He had expected a very negative reaction to the film. In that way, I think, the movie can be seen as a sort of failure. The artist wanted a certain, specific reaction, and he got the exact opposite.


Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:49 am
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