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Issue 1754 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Free Film of the Week: Un Chien Andalou

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in Issue 1754

Directed By: Luis Buñuel; Salvador Dalí

Year of Release: 1929

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The most shocking scene in all of cinema according to many

My brief defence of abstract movies and surrealism is predicated on them genuinely seeking to capture a feeling or convey some truth. While this generally holds for surreal movies, there are of course exceptions. Perhaps the most famous of these exceptions is Un Chien Andalou. It was a film intended to deliberately steer away from rational interpretations and actively resist the process of seeking to capture truth on screen. Buñuel said that he and Dalí had only the following principles in mind when writing the film: “Do not dwell on what required purely rational, psychological or cultural explanations. Open the way to the irrational. It was accepted only that which struck us, regardless of the meaning”. I will not ruin the surprises by listing all the shocking scenes, but suffice it to say that Buñuel and Dalí succeed at both confusing you, shocking you, and at mocking the ‘avantgarde cine’ of the time. I hold up Eraserhead as an example of convincing you that there is truth in surrealist cinema, as a defence of the genre. But Un Chien Andalou serves as a criticism of the “inane herd”, as Buñuel called them, who see truth in anything. It takes aim at those who pass off their lack of vision as abstraction, and in that sense is an attack on the genre. For those interested in getting into classics, Un Chien Andalou is a great place to start. [Versions of this short exist on Youtube and on the Archive.]

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