Movie Review: Un Chien Andalou (1929) #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge by watching and reviewing some of my favorite movies of all time that I haven’t watched in a long time. This post contains SPOILERS!

Title: Un Chien Andalou
Release Date: June 6, 1929
Director: Luis Buñuel
Production Company: Les Grands Films Classiques
Synopsis:

First things first, by all the rules of alphabetization this movie should be filed under “C” not “U.”  But there’s not much that makes sense about this movie so it may as well be here.  For example, writing a “synopsis” of this movie would require it having a standard plot.  Instead, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí populate the film with surrealistic visions and nightmare imagery.

The movie is famed for scenes of a man sharpening a razor and then slicing a woman’s eyeball. Another man pulls two grand pianos with dead donkeys and two surprised looking priests.  There are no real defined characters or places, and much of what we see is horrifying.  Buñuel and Dali plumb the depths of the subconscious as well as giving a goose to the film industry of the possibilities of what film could do.

When Did I First See This Movie?:

This movie was my “white whale” for some time.  I read about it in a book for my high school film studies book and it struck me as something so fantastically weird for the 1920s.  Not too long afterwards Pixies released the song “Debaser” which is inspired by Un Chien Andalou.  It wasn’t until the early 2000s when I finally saw the movie at the Harvard Film Archive.  I remember trying to figure out the plot and symbolism for the first five or ten minutes before cottoning on that I was missing the point.

What Did I Remember?:

The eyeball slicing, the piano/donkeys/priests, and the man sort of dressed like a nun riding a bicycle around Paris.

What Did I Forget?:

The ants, the severed hand, the woman in the street, the sexual assault, the nudity, and the beach.

What Makes This Movie Great?:

It changed the way films are made and is the ancestor of much independent and arthouse cinema.

What Doesn’t Hold Up?:

A lot of the ensuing independent and arthouse cinema is made by people who are quite full of themselves.

Is It a Classic?:

Does it matter?

Rating: ****

One More All-Time Favorite Movie Starting With U:

  1. UP

What is your favorite movie starting with U? Any guesses for my V movie (hint: one of its biggest stars is a famous West coast city)?  Let me know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Movie Review: Un Chien Andalou (1929) #atozchallenge

  1. Ah, another film I’ve heard mentioned so often but never seen. When I introduced my World Literature students to Federico García Lorca I read of his connection with the film, during the time he had a relationship with Dali, who later turned Fascist. Just from watching the trailer I can see it would push a lot of my buttons–could feel the irritation rising–but I probably ought to see it some day and practice withholding judgment!

    Liked by 1 person

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