Surrealism in film

Stemmed from Dadaism and the rejection of orthodox art, Surrealism was born. This movement started in Paris in the roaring 1920’s and was founded by Andre Breton. The Surrealist prime objective was freedom from the restrictions of rationality and a bourgeois society. They also followed inspirations from the father of the psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. He believed that when the mind was semi-conscious or in a dream state, it’s when the mind could be liberated. That’s why most of the work is represented in a dreamlike state.

From paintings to literature, Surrealism was being manifested in many ways and through time it moved his ways to film. One of the prime examples of surrealist cinema is the filmmaker Luis Buñuel. In 1929 he released his film Un Chien Andalou. Co-written by the Painter, Salvador Dali, this film captures the essence of surrealism. By dispensing linear narrative, they are freeing the viewers from normal storytelling; showing them scenes that looked dreamed like and questioning the rationality of the plot. In the film, they also showed shocking and violent imagery to disrupt reality. The perfect scene that represented jolting imagery was when the man cut an eye with a razor blade. Where in that time it must have been unsettling for the viewers.

Surrealism is also the rejection of traditional institutions in society and religion. Showed in 1930’s Luis Buñuel film l’age d’Or, this film uses Christian imagery and use it as a form of mockery. By combining the theme of sexual oppression and Christianity, it was an attack on the bourgeois and the traditional rationality that the viewers had in that time.

Surrealist filmmakers aimed to attack rationality through their films. They intended to derange meaning, to upset and disorient the audience by using shocking imagery. Expressing the illogicality of the narration and plot by depicting in the dreamlike scenery. This movement truly took film and revolutionize it by talk about social commentary and questioning the morality of the people.

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