For Monday –

Hi Class! As I said, I wanted you to watch the  Surrealist Film Andalusian Dog (link below),  and to comment on the film by responding to this blog post. The film is only 16 minutes long (embedded below).

Directors Luis Bunuel  and Salvador Dali wanted to make a film that was structured like a dream, not a story. They  were also out to shake up the bourgeoisie  (trying to be subversive/ undermine the logical foundations of everyday reality). So there are some shocking images in the film – don’t watch it with your kids! However, it also has an absurd sense of play that you can enjoy. Dali and Bunuel claimed it has “no meaning” – and yet, like a dream, it seems full of symbols.

Some elements to look for in the film:

  • Mix of reality with impossible/magical events
  • Fractured self/ disruption the solid “identity”
  • Subversion of normal ways of “seeing” the world
  • Disruption of space and time/ play with memory
  • Ominous presence of the business world/subversion of bourgeoise norms and values
  • A strong distrust of “everyday reality”

Roger Ebert said of this film: “It assaults old and unconscious habits of moviegoing. It is disturbing, frustrating, maddening. It seems without purpose (and yet how much purpose, really, is there in seeing most of the movies we attend?). There is wry humor in it, and a cheerful willingness to offend. Most members of today’s audiences are not offended, and maybe that means the surrealists won their revolution” (“Un Chien Andalou”).

We’ll discuss it on Monday. We’ll also get started on the writer Jorge Luis Borges – He was  influenced by Surrealists in his youth, but the stories in Ficciones, written in 1941, are very different. The first story we’ll read for Monday is “The Library of Babel” – see the Course schedule for the next readings!


15 thoughts on “For Monday –

  1. Zach Thomas September 11, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    I can see how this would have befuddled the mind of its time. The ants in the man’s palm, the severed hand on the street, the slicing of the eyeball, the woman being groped were a little uncomfortable. The animals in the piano were really weird. The movie seems, as has undoubtedly been said, like a stream of consciousness. All in all, this is a film I appreciate the idea of. Important? Sure. Something I’d revisit? Probably not.


  2. Alison Lane September 11, 2016 / 9:32 pm

    I felt like there was some kind of commentary on greed or maybe obsession? The box seemed to cause chaos, and I tried to figure out if maybe all the deaths were caused by certain things. The one man was too lusty, the other woman and man were both killed while day dreaming/being distracted, but I’m not sure why the woman who got assaulted died in the end. The metaphors throughout like the ants on the hand and the slicing of the eyeball were strange, and a bit hard to follow. I’m really not sure what to make of this. It seems like there’s a point being made about reality, and the interruption of time and space.


  3. Kyrah Clemons September 11, 2016 / 10:06 pm

    The film was awkward and unpredictable and very hard to watch and disturbing. It was much like a dream and made no sense as dreams usually don’t. If I had lived during that time I would had gone to see it but left in the middle of the movie.


  4. Vincent Phillips September 12, 2016 / 1:06 am

    Besides the eye cutting scene, and maybe one or two others, most of the intentionally uncomfortable elements of this film seem to have lost the shock value they would have had at the time of this film’s production. This somewhat displays a desensitization in audiences of today’s society, but more so attests to how revolutionary the piece is. This film, I’m sure was much viewed as far more grotesque when originally released. However, over time the elements which produced such feelings have been allowed to resonate on every level of modern day cinematic techniques. Bunuel and Dali effectively pushed the envelope, in a work that indeed was extremely shocking at the time of it’s release, and stretched the idea of norms in regards to films.


  5. Yaicha Ocampo September 12, 2016 / 3:57 am

    The beginning scene of the man slicing the woman’s eyeball really disturbed me because of how unexpected it was. I also found the ants crawling out of the man’s hand to be interesting. I thought it could symbolize how rotten he was, or his corruption as an individual. This concept was further supported by how excited he was at the detective’s death, and him attempting to rid the pianos with the decaying animals on top. I also felt extremely uncomfortable when he began to grope the woman. The aspect that really bothered me was the film comparing her to a mannequin; I thought it further objectified her for the man’s own pleasure.
    after watching the film, I think Robert Ebert was not completely right in regards to modern audiences not being offended by this film because certain aspects did not set well with me, personally.


  6. Diondra Williams September 12, 2016 / 1:21 pm

    This short film was out of this world! I was not expecting the opening scene with the cutting of the eyeball, but i guess that was a sort of hidden message of the overall film. Are we really seeing only half of what is reality? Or are we looking at the EVERYTHING. This film was all over the place for me, it was interesting and it kept me on the edge just waiting to see what else “crazy” was about to happen! I saw the whole mix of reality with impossible event play throughout the film, the bugs coming out of the whole of the man’s hands, etc. He was for sure fighting with himself with the whole “sexual” part of the film with him touching the lady or what not. He’s got some split pieces to himself that need some repairing. This film makes you think about what is reality, and what is just all in our heads i guess.


  7. Elizabeth Tabor September 12, 2016 / 1:22 pm

    I found this film to be interesting in an extremely weird sort of way. It was a bit hard to follow at some moments due to both the lack of dialogue as well as the weirdness of it all, but you can somehow get the very basic gist as far as the overall plot goes. After all this time since it’s original release, some moments in this film are/were shocking and uncomfortable to watch (the groping and the eyeball being cut for example) even when you consider all the gore and violence we can and do get in some of today’s movies. But if you think about it and put yourself in the time period, and maybe even a bit of the social frame of mind at the time, one can certainly imagine that this was a 100+ times more shocking and perplexing it was for 1916 society worldwide.


  8. Taylor O'Hara September 12, 2016 / 1:38 pm

    The film was jarring, and the strangeness of different images exemplified the ways that our dreams can be both haunting and mesmerizing. The eye in the beginning seems to suggest that there will be a change in how things are perceived, and the film does just that by displaying absurd, surreal, and unsettling images. Something I noticed was that anything that seemed representative of reality was discarded. For example, the wrist containing a watch is removed from the screen. A tape measurer is thrown out of the window. It reminded me of lucid dreaming, and the treatment of “realness” in the film seemed to suggest that reality wasn’t as valued as the surreal. The first time I watched it I was more frustrated than anything. Trying to piece together and make sense of all of the different scenes left me at a loss. What did it all mean? The sliced eyeball, the man carrying the dead horse and a piano, and the ants crawling out of the man’s palm left my head spinning with possible interpretations. For my own sanity, I decided to watch the film again with the understanding that it isn’t supposed to have meaning. I really enjoyed it when I approached it without trying to interpret the different scenes. The transition from scene to scene was beautiful, and though the film was disturbing at points it was interesting to be jolted from my own perception of what makes “sense”.


  9. Krysten Elliott September 12, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    In regards to this being a surrealist film, my guess is that it definitely pushed the boundaries of art at this point in time because of its level of strangeness. It had no clear plot, but rather jumped from scene to scene in a dream-like way, which made it seem disjointed. There were a few times where the setting suddenly changed in a way that wouldn’t be possible in reality, but could very well happen in a dream. Another dream-like, unconscious element about the movie is the images they put focus on, such as the severed hand, the lady unexpectedly appearing on the porch in the beginning, the man wiping away his mouth, the dead animal on the piano, the black hole in the man’s hand, etc.


  10. Danielle Quinn September 12, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    I had to watch this film a couple times before I really started to see the metaphors and therefore, (sort of) understand what was being shown. For example, when the eyeball was slit open in the opening scene, I took it as an unspoken warning of what was to come. This film was quite different from anything I have ever seen, but I liked it because it showed many things that aren’t usually put into words or paid attention to. One scene that specifically stood out to me was when the man was feeling the woman up and after she got away, he chased her with what I assume, intentions to further sexually assault her. It seemed as though he was contemplating it for a moment but then the weight of his conscience kicked in, thus being shown by the heavy cows he had to drag to get back to her. While this film forced me to think outside of the box and put aside the how’s and why’s in which I saw the world, it got me thinking about the unconscious and how active it really is. Before I was introduced to this work my opinions of our conscious and unconscious were quite different and i guess in a way, one dimensional.


  11. K.T. Chin September 12, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    This film succeeded in getting a reaction out of me, as I’m sure it did at the time it was released. Certain scenes, such as the ants in the palm of one guy, the slicing of the eyeball in the very beginning, and the molestation scene were all very troubling to me personally. I didn’t know quite what to make of certain points in the film, for instance, the unrealistic strength of the man as he pulls two grand pianos, two dead deer, and two men. I also wondered what to make of the two specific scenes that make notice of the woman’s body hair. In the beginning she has hair on her armpits, but once revisited by the “butterfly on the wall”, it is gone and she chastises him about it. Another notable scene is where the man is stripped by another man of his identifying clothing. What I was able to make notice of somewhat clearly was the transformation of the man in the dark suit into the same man in a light colored suit. Following that transformation, the man in the light suit hands his former self books which is then turned into guns that the dark suited man uses to kill the man in the light suit, touching on the element of a fractured self. I can see how a scene like that could be a response to the times.


  12. Veronica Good September 12, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    This film is strange not only because it is surreal but also because of the effort put in to make it meaningless. What gets me is that despite their desire to make it meaningless, I can’t help but wonder if there is a reason for it. Another thing that I noticed was that the people who were taking part in the surreal occurrences were calm and casual about it while onlookers displayed strong reactions to the events. It makes you think about internal verses external perception of situations.


  13. Lindsay September 12, 2016 / 4:12 pm

    I can completely see how this was a surrealist film especially for the time, even now I think it pushes the boundaries of art and metaphor. I think the eyeball really sets the tone of the movie, it almost makes me think of a foreshadowing of a new perspective or different viewpoint. I don’t know if it was purposeful as in for the audience to change its viewpoint, but I think that it wants the viewer to have an open mind so far as perspective. The whole film to me felt very surrealist almost near a Twilight Zone type of production, with the sharp scene cuts and change of direction. I think to really have any understanding of this film you would need to watch it many more times, I watched it twice and still I feel like I know very little about it.


  14. Francesca Donio September 12, 2016 / 6:26 pm

    I found this film very confusing, although I can see where some symbols came into play. For example, when the man touches the women without her consent and then is physically holding himself back. It is almost like the things that begin to hold him back represent his morals and they are fighting against his desires. Also, ants begin to crawl from his hand again after this scene. My first initial thought was that the ants are supposed to signify something that is dirty, representing the disgust his inner voice feels for the impulse to touch the woman although it was unwanted. Although the directors aimed for the film to be meaningless, there seemed to be much meaning within the objects and representations they chose to use.


  15. MacKenzie McKeithan-Prickett September 18, 2016 / 12:39 am

    This was one of the creepiest things I’ve seen in a while. I did however like the reoccurring ideas throughout. There were many but the hands stood out to me the most. I feel like they symbolized both the idea of wanting something you cannot have and once given it the consequence you get afterwords. An example of this is how the lady on the street wanted the severed hand but when she finally got it she faced a consequence. Another example is how the man’s hand only had a few ants the first time it was shown (I feel as though this is representing his desire to touch the woman yet his ability to hold back) but once he gives in and takes from the woman without her permission the number of ants grow and are overflowing from his hand (showing his lack of control and consequence). This idea of the hands is carried on throughout the rest of the film and represents different things – examples from the other man, the angry one, you never see his face for the longest time but you always see his large hand movements and pointing to the man taking his mouth of with his hand and other things. I think this idea of hands as a symbol is intriguing and interesting as it carries on throughout the film.


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