Un Chien Andalou: WTF, But In a Good Way

To celebrate the first anniversary of the 1000 Movie Journey, we're going to watch one of my favorite short films ever: Un Chien Andalou.  This is less of a movie by normal standards, and more of a surrealist art piece that uses the medium of film.  But I love it for the exact same reason I love looking at melting clocks and elephants that have giant tubas for trunks.  Because sometimes it's fun to see something that is so zany and out there and think:

And to stand in awe of the frankly amazing nonsense the human mind is capable of.

I don't know how good I am at analyzing a film like Un Chien Andalou, but I do like it.  So I'd like to present my Top 5 images from the movie.

5.  The would-be rapist suddenly deciding to become a plowhorse and pull two grand pianos with dead donkeys in them and a pair of what appear to clergymen.  Where does that even come from?

4.  The guy groping her, while her clothed breasts turn naked, then clothed again, then into ass cheeks.  Excuse me?

3.  Him smugly looking at her while he wipes away his mouth with a gesture.  Then replaces his mouth with her armpit hair.

2.  When the guy is staring at his hand and a swarm of ants begin crawling out of a hole in his palm.  It's just so unbelievably off-putting.

1.  This has to be the most famous image from this film, when Luis Bunuel himself slices open the girl's eye as she stares calmly ahead.  I know it's not real, but even after having seen it 5 or 6 times, it's still really hard for me to watch without looking away at the last second.

There are some other things I think are cool too.  I love the music they use for the soundtrack -- it's fun, interesting, and pitch perfect for the visuals.  I like the dream elements of the film, how there's recurring images but they don't quite fit together and nothing makes sense.  And I love the completely pointless delineation of time (they use title cards that say things like, "Once Upon a Time" or "Sixteen Years Earlier" while showing no perceivable difference in anything that happens on screen).

This movie always reminds me of when I was in film class and we were learning about match shots.  Because Un Chien Andalou uses them so frequently and in such an interesting manner.  Especially since so many of the transitions are complete non sequiturs and make absolutely zero sense.  But somehow they still work.

Overall I just think this is a wonderfully idiosyncratic, entertaining film, and a great debut for Luis Bunuel.

Thanks for reading, and come back next time for Faust!

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Anonymous said...

Remember the line in "Big" when Tom Hanks (as grown up Josh) says "I don't get it"? That's me, after watching about 5 minutes of this film. WTF?! Gack! LOL

Llamastrangler said...

I love this film to bits, but the problem with the total lack of cause and effect is that it's hard to find anything to say about it except for how gorgeous it looks. That and the sheer 1920sness! It's rather sad that both of the leads ended up committing suicide though.

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