AN ANDALUSIAN DOG, 1929
Cast: Pierre Batcheff, Simone Mareuil.
Two surrealist artists compile what is best described as avisual poem. There is no traditional narrative attached. This film shows multiple dreamlike situations between two protagonists.
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1929's "Un Chien Andalou" could have easily been called, "How toperfect a Match Cut." That is how this film gained its infamy. A match cut is where the director makes a cut and the only thing joining the two different frames is two objects of a similar shape. Without spoiling the horrific opening sequence, the infamous cut is made of a cloud and a razor. Perhaps a more recognizable match cut for some of you would be in Kubrick's "2001: Space Odyssey."
Clocking in at only fifteen minutes this film is characterized as a short. However, I have heard it much more frequently called a visual poem. Dali and Bunuel's collaboration has essentially the story of a couple, and all he stages of their courtship ( the latter is my interpretation.) There are multiple metaphors at work here in this film. I will go on to interpret what a couple of these metaphors are.
A surrealist masterpiece like this invites itself to interpretation. In addition to that, Bunuel was known for his work being directly inspired by his dreams. In this film, he uses dream logic as a connection between all of the actions that take place. This film could very well be just comprised of non-sequitur shots and be totally devoid of meaning. However there were a couple scenes that struck me as very interesting.
First off in a scene where the unnamed male protagonist lusts after the female character, he is shown being partially out of reach of her, weighed down by multiple items. The items that he is pulling behind him are: two grand pianos with dead donkeys on top of them, and two confused priests (one played by Dali himself) holding the ten commandments.
I interpreted this weight as the burden man feels when trying to court a woman. He has to deal with all these gender politics,socio-political mores, puritanical, and other religious perspectives obstructing his process of attempting to win the girl over. This is probably my mind wandering very, very far away from the scene itself.
The title itself "Un Chien Andalou" translates to The Andalusian Dog. What is that supposed to mean in the context of the film? Absolutely nothing. Dali and Bunuel made a point to make it a truly incomprehensible film with the times jumps they have. The title cards which indicate transition range from, "Three months later" to "sixteen years before". Also within these transitions of drastically varying times, the characters manage to look exactly the same.
In the last scene there is really magnificent eerie twist whichcompletely shatters all preconceived notions of the "couple in love" type of ending. Because there is no traditional story, Roger Ebert summed this film up perfectly when he said, "To describe the movie is simply to list its shots, since there is no story line to link them."
Go watch this Surrealist masterpiece and draw your own conclusions. Make your interpretation.
AN ANDALUSIAN DOG