Notes on Short Film

Lengthy diatribe on brief cinematic experience.

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

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Luis Bunuel’s collaborative film with surrealist demigod Salvador Dali is one of the classic examples of short filmmakers subverting Hollywood narrative in every way. The eye-slicing opening sequence communicates that one much watch this film with a different eye, and after that, the film does not try very hard to communicate much else. Narrative sequence is ignored, dialogue is ignored, and Bunuel only includes “images that surprise[d]” the filmmakers themselves. Compared to D.W. Griffith, who wanted to explore everything film could do in the realm of imagination to tell a story, Bunuel and Dali sought the most imaginative of images without the goal of storytelling. Whether they’re expressing an emotion, reveling in turmoil, or simply laughing behind a slew of shocking images is irrelevant. This film is still one of the most studied and discussed short films committed to celluloid, and if you’re looking for a bit of analysis much more insightful and comprehensive than mine, might I suggest John Nesbit’s Old School Reviews or Michael Koller’s article on Senses of Cinema?

Koller quotes Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray to emphasize his point, and I think it’s worth reiterating here.

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”

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Written by Alisa Hathaway

February 25, 2011 at 11:23 am

One Response

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