Surrealism and film  

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"They can keep their Bressons and their Cocteaus. The cinematic, modern marvelous is popular, and the best and most exciting films are, beginning with Méliès and Fantômas, the films shown in local fleapits, films which seem to have no place in the history of cinema." --Le Surréalisme au cinéma (1953) by Adonis A. Kyrou

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Surrealism coincided with the rise of film as a mass entertainment medium, and it was the first art movement to appreciate film as a means of artistic expression. Two prominent members of the Surrealists collaborated on films near the end of the 1920s: Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí with Un chien andalou and L'Âge d'Or. Buñuel went on to direct many more, with varying degrees of Surrealism. Notable for Surrealism amongst Buñuel's later films are The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie), The Exterminating Angel (El Ángel exterminador), and Belle de jour.

Contents

Precursors

Films by the Surrealist movement

Later directors working within the surrealistic tradition

Notes

The truest aspects of Surrealism in film are often found in passing frames of a larger film; the sudden emergence of the uncanny into the "normal" which may or may not be further explored in the rest of the film. The original group spent hours going from film to film, often not finishing one before seeking another, partly in hopes of catching just such ephemeral moments, and partly with the idea of stitching together a film in their own minds out of the disparate parts.

Antonin Artaud, Philippe Soupault and Robert Desnos wrote screenplays for Surrealistic films. Salvador Dali designed a dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock's film Spellbound. There is a strong Surrealist influence present in Alain Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad.

Many have described David Lynch as a Surrealist filmmaker, he is perhaps one of the best known examples of today, and most influential. For examples of Surrealism in his work, see Eraserhead, Blue Velvet or Mulholland Drive.

Alejandro Jodorowsky sought to revive Surrealism in his films The Holy Mountain and El Topo.

Marcel Mariën (L'imitation du cinéma), André Delvaux (Un Soir, un train) and, more recently, Jan Bucquoy (Camping Cosmos) are notable for being representational of the Belgian Surrealist school in cinema. André Delvaux (the latter in the tradition of the magic realism with the movie Un Soir, un Train (1968)) and Marcel Mariën with the controversial L'imitation du cinéma (1959), are representatives of the Belgian Surrealist school in cinema.

Film director and music video director Michel Gondry is regarded as a Surrealist filmmaker, particularly for his films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep.

Bibliography

Related


Connoisseurs

Robert Benayoun - Wayney of Chaotic Cinema - Ado Kyrou - Paul Hammond

Assorted quotes

  • "Creation, to me, is to try to orchestrate the universe to understand what surrounds us. Even if, to accomplish that, we use all sorts of stratagems which in the end prove completely incapable of staving off chaos." - Peter Greenaway
  • "Fortunately, somewhere between chance and mystery lies imagination, the only thing that protects our freedom, despite the fact that people keep trying to reduce it or kill it off altogether." - Luis Buñuel
  • "A specter is haunting the cinema: the specter of narrative. If that apparition is an angel, we must embrace it; and if it is a devil, we must cast it out. But we cannot know what it is until we have met it face to face." - Hollis Frampton
  • "Everybody's a mad scientist, and life is their lab. We're all trying to experiment to find a way to live, to solve problems, to fend off madness and chaos." - David Cronenberg
  • "I don't think that people accept the fact that life doesn't make sense. I think it makes people terribly uncomfortable." - David Lynch

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Surrealism and film" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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