Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) (1929)
Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) (1929)

Genre: Fantasy and Short Running Time: 17 min.

Release Date: June 6th, 1929 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Luis Bunuel Actors: Simonne Mareuil, Pierre Batchef

 


 

D

irected by Luis Bunuel and written by Bunuel and Salvador Dali, “Un Chien Andalou” is primarily recognized by its striking opening scene, in which a woman’s eye is sliced with a razor (actually, an animal eyeball) – a horrifyingly grisly concept that would be shocking now, let alone in 1929 when this film was released. At approximately 17 minutes in length, with little resembling a narrative, this masterpiece of provocative surrealism is at once disturbing and inspiring, blending together some of early film’s most outrageous ideas. Mere minutes after the eye is mutilated, ants crawl from a hole in a man’s hand, which is then shown as a severed limb on the ground, probed and inspected by a crowd and a policeman.

“Once upon a time …” it begins, as if a fairy tale. Yet few of the bewildering shots could be construed as whimsical Parisian fantasy. In fact, as the picture progresses, it grows ever more perverse, transitioning from vehicular manslaughter to a sexual assault (with lots of groping) to the literal dragging of two pianos with the corpses of rotting donkeys laid across the keys. Title cards suggest elapsed time or flashbacks or shifts forward in time, but this singular work isn’t really intended to be followed as if a traditional story.

It’s so freakish and routinely inscrutable that its imagery is alternately scary, obscene, dramatic, and hilarious (the orchestral music is perfectly fitting, contrasting the bizarreness on display). It simply doesn’t exist in any sort of analyzable reality. Some of the sequences are supposed to represent specific themes, though it’s far easier to simply admire the special effects, the makeup, and the wealth of outrageous activities unfolding in this aberrant, one-of-a-kind experiment in hallucinatory, challenging, extreme French surrealist cinema.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10