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Introduction
1927

Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali make Un Chien andalou

"Our only rule was very simple: No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted. We had to open all doors to the irrational and keep only those images that surprised us, without trying to explain why." Luis Bunuel

Un Chien Andalou is arguably the most famous surrealist short film ever made.

Scripted in just six days by friends and fellow Spaniards Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, the film contains images and events from the depths of their subconscious dreams and desires.

Their surrealist intent and desire to parody, shock and provoke is apparent from the first scene. The film begins with a traditional intertitle: 'Once upon a timeā€¦', that introduces a wholly unconventional and brutal act in which a man appears to slice open a woman's eye, while a cloud passes over the moon like a knife. Later, ants crawl out of a hole in a man's hand and two priests are dragged along the street in front of a pair of dead donkeys on top of grand pianos.

In Un Chien andalou, the cinematic representation of time and space is dislocated and confused, as Dali and Bunuel eschew logical narrative progression in favour of a dreamscape of sexual innuendo, religious iconography and free association. Intertitles describing the passage of time, such as 'sixteen years later' are inserted into scenes that then appear to continue as though no time has passed at all, and when the woman's eye is sliced open, she is shown in the following scene to be completely unharmed. Dali and Bunuel's purposeful rejection of any rational connections between the images, renders the film even more uninterpretable since it is edited in a conventional and non-experimental way, creating a further incongruous juxtaposition for the audience to puzzle over.

Lara Thompson

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Still from Un Chien andalou

Courtesy of Erik Liknaitzky
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