Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Un Chien Andalou

Un Chien Andalou is a 16-minute surrealist film made in France in 1928 by Spanish director Luis Bunuel and Spanish artist Salvador Dali. It is considered to be one of the best-known surrealist films made in the modernist era.

The film brings across the true form of Surrealism. In the conventional sense of the word, the film does not really have a narrative. It consists of disjointed scenes, which jump from one to another. This creates a series of events that attempt to shock the viewer's psyche.

The silence makes the visuals more unnerving, as we are highly aware of the visual impact the imagery has on us. Provocative themes and abstract concepts is the recipe of this film. We are left baffled and at a loss of any rational explanation. Senseless as it may seem, it leaves us with a disturbing sense of uncertainty that plays with our mind in a way that is beyond our logical comprehension. 

Although the film seems to have a chronology because it opens with "once upon a time" to move on to "eight years later" and then "spring", we realize that the texts are misleading as it does not really make sense. The characters are randomly faced with surprising incidents, which the viewer cannot immediately decipher. The obscurity puts the viewer in a state of constant confusion that is disturbing. It gives a theme that appears to be vague yet is deep in its idea of showing the larger sense of its purpose.

The famous scene of the slitting of the eye is open to many interpretations. When the film starts, we see the moon about to be covered with clouds, while the husband (played by Bunuel) gazes at the moon, fingering the razor he has just sharpened. The moon is symbolic of the eye of the wife because, as soon after this shot, there is a cut to the close-up of his wife. There is one more cut which shows the moon being overcome by the clouds as the husband slits his wife’s eye. Highly symbolic imagery is used here. When he slits the eye of his wife, there is a feeling of convoluting shock as we see how effortlessly the action is done. One cannot understand the motive behind it. And throughout the movie, we are left wondering why that scene was shot as we taken in quick sequences of varying movements and actions. This scene may be looked at as the essence of the surreal art form, as the cluelessness left behind may be the purpose of having it.

This movie can be compared to other masterpieces such as Trainspotting by Danny Boyle and Eight and Half by Frederico Fellini. Both the movies explore different themes using surrealism to create a desired effect on the audience.

One of the world's rarest short films, Un Chien Andalou is a must watch for a mind-boggling, bewildering experience.


  1. Absolutely surreal in its true sense.Love the way you have put across your views about the movie. Yes, definitely I agree with you it is a must watch movie which will leave the viewers speechless.

  2. http://blahandmore.blogspot.com/2007/07/un-chien-andalou.html another review on the same film, with a link to the film as well.

  3. Okay, I should have checked. Dead link!

    Direct link to the full film:

  4. Very well written... cant wait to watch the film... will get back here once i watch it...

  5. Codemanure: For some reason, the link to the film isn't opening.

  6. Good review, Zulf. Un Chien Andalou (Do we know why it's called Andalusian Dog?) was probably the first in 'experimental' film-making which welcomed Bunuel into the Surrealist Group. I would also recommend Bunuel's next feature L'Age d'Or (The Golden Age) which was highly controversial at its time for its attack on the Church and the bourgeois.

    I beg to differ with your comparison with Trainspotting and 8 1/2 as I feel the sequences you're referring to in these movies are not really surreal in the sense of the surrealist or Dadaist movement, as in, it was not the 'motif' of these movies.

    A more appropriate comparison, I think, would be Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain, which in fact even references Andalusian Dog with Bunuel's trademark insects coming out of a man's hand. Jodorowsky's El Topo being another difficult film. Both I found to be a bit difficult and inaccessible.

    Well, critique away, Zulf...and hey, that's just my two cents anyways :)

  7. very nice 1st review....
    this is the review which made me a follower....

    this is a highly disturbing film for some... however i thought that it is definitely one of the greatest short films ever made.

    i think that its also the only short film in the IMDB Top 250 rankings (though many might say the rankings are inaccurate) or at least hovering close to the rankings....

  8. I'm so happy to hear this caught you on..:) The film definitely deserves to be in the top IMDB rankings. I would vouch for it, however surreal it may be!:)

  9. Imdb's rating system can be a bit contentious at times. I'd rather go by RT's tomatometer for reviews. And as far as lists go, they're all subjective. But an essential guide I always refer to Roger Ebert's Great Movies list. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=greatmovies_intro

  10. Roger Ebert is a very good recommendation. I enjoy his style and aspects covered. Accurate.

  11. Mr Ebert's blog/journal on not just movies but everything else is equally addictive.