Friday, September 6, 2013

It Might Be Rational to Be Irrational: "Un Chien Andalou"

When Professor Sinclair wrote the name "Luis Bunuel" on the board the very first day of class, I assumed this fellow could be someone worth knowing about. So, tapping into that "beginning of the school year ambition," I dutifully researched the filmmaker. This is what I found:

"Un Chien Andalou", Bunuel's first film, proved unable to be ignored by the world. It's shocking. It's disturbing. And it makes absolutely no sense. But then again, that was the point. Working closely with famous surrealist Salvador Dali, the filmmakers vowed that the script could contain: "No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind..." Even more, Bunuel explicated that, "Nothing, in the film, symbolizes anything. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis."

Now, one must note, I was not yet aware of the lack of rational concepts when I initially hit the play button on the sixteen minute film. You can image then, how hard my brain was working to find symbolism in the madness. If you haven't yet had the pleasure of watching this particular piece of artistry, I urge you to click the video and watch it now. If you haven't watched "Un Chien Andalou" and don't intend to, allow me to give you a quick rundown.

A woman's eyeball is cut open. A man wearing nun's habit falls off his bicycle on the side of the road. Insects come out of a man's hand. A woman gets run over. Rape almost happens. The rapist drags two pianos covered in rotting donkey corpses across the room. A woman's armpit hair grows on a man's face where his mouth used to be. AND MUCH MUCH MORE!

Even if weird isn't necessarily your thing, one has to give credit to Bunuel for his boldness. Once I understood that the film couldn't be, well, understood, I actually found myself really enjoying the piece. There's no doubt that "Un Chien Andalou" is shocking. But imagine the reactions the short must have evoked when it first came out in 1929. In conclusion, there's a reason we should research the people Professor Sinclair asks us to. If I hadn't, I would have missed out on this particular gem.

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