Un Chien Andalou
They say that variety is the spice of life. In a continuing attempt to embrace that variety here with One Movie Each Day, I’ve decided to dedicate each Wednesday review to the stranger side of cinema, the type of movies that I’d never normally watch, but that I’m kind of secretly glad exist. In celebration or in condemnation of the eccentric, the odd, the freaky, the kinky, the ghastly, the freaky, the fearful, the flaky, and the freaky and I now present what may be the forefather of weird movies, this the eleventh and oldest installment of Wednesday Weirdness.
Dark, disturbing and utterly bizarre, yet timeless and compelling at the same time. That, I think pretty well sums up today’s movie, Un Chien Andalou. If you’re not a serious film-buff, you may never have heard of the film’s director and co-writer, Louis Bunuel, (I certainly hadn’t before now,) but I suspect that just about everyone will be familiar with the film’s other co-writer, Salvador Dali.
As one might expect from Dali, the film is well and truly weird, it’s also only about fifteen minutes long. That said, it crams the absolute maximum amount of strange and surreal happening into that short run time. Then it ends, just before it can be too much. I’m not going to describe the actual content of the film, because I really do think that knowing what to expect would diminish the experience. Suffice to say though, that the film contains some imagery that is still disturbing, even to a jaded modern consumer of popular culture such as myself. In a lot of ways the film looks and feels like it could be a music video from some sort of nineties industrial rock outfit, and I’d imagine that it was, in fact, the inspiration for a lot of them.
This is a landmark film, it’s twisted but widely creative, and based on what little I’ve learned about the film’s reception over the years, it’s one of the more important films in cinematic history. There are stories of Dali and Bunnuel packing their coat pockets with rocks when attending the premier in anticipation of having to defend themselves from an angry mob. While the story seems like it’s probably more myth than reality, having see the film I can see why, the story has staying power. The term “groundbreaking” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s certainly apt here.
Despite its brevity and its fantastic surrealism the film does seem to have a lot to say, it there are themes of love and sex, contrasted with themes of death and decay. It really is a piece of art. As I sit here, trying to make sense of the whole thing, I’m coming to think that maybe I’m not supposed to make sense of it. I’m not sure that I necessarily liked this film… but I am going to watch it again. In fact, (for anyone who’s not easily disturbed,) I would go so far as to say that Un Chien Andalou is a must see.