Un chien Anda-what?

         "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" ("Un chien Andalou," Senses). This is how director Luis Buñuel explains the so-called plot of Un chien Andalou. Truly there was only one purpose for the movie: to shock: to blow the minds of the upper class, the bourgeois, the patrons of the arts who knew absolutely nothing about it.

        Un chien Andalou helped Buñuel and Dali to break into the elite scene for artists of surrealism. It was a stab at everything that claimed to be avante garde but--in their opinion--was not (Cook 309-10). The film reads like a dream: random scenes in a sequence with no continuity whatsoever. It follows a system of logic called graphic match in which, "the widely divergent positions of the characters, and their glances, place the center of narrative interest in different parts of the screen, requiring effort from the viewer to shift attention across cuts, and sort out spatial relations" ("Japanese Film").

        Each scene really is its own work of art, making a bold and unique statement unrelated to the others. If you take each scene at face value, all of them almost make sense. There are themes constant in all film and works of art that can be grasped in small pieces: life, death, lust and love (Cannon). Lust is obvious in the scene where the woman's clothes begin to fade in and out as she is fondled by the man. And "the French phrase "ants in the palms," (which means that someone is "itching" to kill) is shown literally" ("Un chien Andalou (1929").

        It is difficult to analyze Un chien Andalou. The film is more about the experience than any deep or meaningful message. To quote the director himself, "the purpose of surrealism was not to create a new literary, artistic, or even philosophical movement, but to explode the social order, to transform life itself" ("Thank God").

Works Cited

Cannon, Damian. "'Un chien Andalou: A Review." 24 Apr. 2006 (http://www.film.u-net.com/Movies/Reviews/Chien_Andalou.html).

"Un chien Andalou (1929)." IMDb 24 Apr.l 2006 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020530/plotsummary).

"Un chien Andalou." Senses of Cinema 24 Apr. 2006 (http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/01/12/chien.html).

Cook, David A. A History of Narrative Film. 4th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2004. "Un chien Andalou (1929)." IMDb 24 Apr.l 2006 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020530/plotsummary).

"Japanese Film as a Critique of Hollywood Realist Narrative Cinema" 24 Apr. 2006 ( =2&client=firefox-a).

"Thank God I'm an Atheist: The Surrealistic Cinema of Luis Bu˝uel." Communication and the Arts 24 Apr. 2006 (http://www.regent.edu/acad/schcom/rojc/papciak.html).

Laura Weiter

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