Surrealism and film
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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.
Films by the Surrealist movement
- Entr'acte by René Clair (1924)
- La Coquille et le clergyman by Germaine Dulac, screenplay by Antonin Artaud (1927)
- Un chien andalou by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí (1928)
- L'Étoile de mer by Man Ray (1928)
- L'Âge d'Or by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí (1930)
- Le Sang d'un poète by Jean Cocteau (1930)
Later directors working within the surrealistic tradition
- Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep )
- Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, La Cité des enfants perdus, Amélie)
- Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, The Holy Mountain)
- David Lynch (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive)
- Guy Maddin (Archangel, The Saddest Music in the World)
- Takashi Miike (Gozu)
- Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away)
- Mamoru Oshii (Tenshi no Tamago)
- The Brothers Quay (The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes)
- Jacques Rivette (Céline et Julie vont en bateau)
- Jan Svankmajer (Faust, Alice)
- Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo)
- Terry Gilliam (Brazil (film), Time Bandits, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Tideland (film))
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.
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.
- Surrealist and film theorist Robert Benayoun has written books on Tex Avery (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck), Looney Tunes, Woody Allen, Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers.
- Le Surréalisme au cinéma is a French language film history history book by Ado Kyrou.
- Film as a Subversive Art (1974) by Amos Vogel has a good section on surrealist cinema titled Surrealism: The Cinema of Shock.
- The Shadow and Its Shadow: Surrealist Writings on the Cinema (1978) - Paul Hammond (Editor)
- Dada and Surrealist Film (1987) - Rudolf E. Kuenzli
- Surrealism and Cinema (2006) - Michael Richardson
- "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