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Film / Un Chien Andalou

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...try not to picture how this scene ends...

Un Chien Andalou is a 1929 Mind Screw short silent film made by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, the father of cinematic Eye Scream, a milestone on surrealist cinema, a Real Life example of True Art Is Incomprehensible and of course of Le Film Artistique and the plot — it's indescribable at best.

The title translates to An Andalusian Dog, which if anything just makes it more confusing (Dalí's friend Lorca was Andalusian, and they had a falling-out around the production of this film, so the title might have been a Take That! at Lorca. Buñel, however, denied this).

Compare L'Age d'Or, the second film Bunuel and Dali made together, which is only a little less weird.


Un Chien Andalou provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ambiguous Gender: The person in the street who gets hit by a car, who may be a bifauxnen woman, a mythical androgyne dream archetype or a very feminine guy (played by a pretty, lipstick-wearing woman).
  • Attempted Rape: Foiled by the would-be assailant suddenly picking up two ropes and dragging two grand pianos with dead donkeys and bewildered priests attached to them across the room towards the cornered woman. He is slowed down sufficiently that she can escape. While he (or perhaps another version of him) is lying on the bed in the next room, the "plot" moves in a different direction at this point.
  • Body Horror: Oh look! There are ants coming out of a hole in my hand!
  • Creator Cameo:
    • That's Salvador Dalí dressed as a priest, being dragged along the ground where a piano used to be.
    • Advertisement:
    • Luis Buñuel is the man with the razor.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: And the soon-to-be-made-roadkill androgyne is poking it with a long thin stick as a crowd gathers.
  • Eye Scream: The opening scene is one of the oldest and most infamous cinematic examples. They used a dead calf's head and heavy lighting to try to obscure the hairs on the face.
  • Gainax Ending: And beginning, and middle. Not too surprising, considering that the rest of the film follows a dream-like logic at best.
  • Identical Grandson: The father and son (assuming that's what they are supposed to be) are both played by the same actor.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: After the man and the woman see the person in the street hit by a car, the man gets aroused, and starts pawing at the woman's breasts.
  • Le Film Artistique: Hey, would you like to watch a movie where a guy slices a lady's eyeball open and another guy drags around two grand pianos with dead donkeys on top of them? Of course you would!
  • Major Injury Underreaction: The male protagonist (if that's even what he is,) sports a gaping wound in the palm of his right hand that is infested with a swarm of ants. Although this injury fascinates him to no end, it neither alarms nor impairs him in any way.
  • Match Cut: The infamous eye slicing is matched up with a shot of a thin cloud passing in front of the moon.
  • Mind Screw: Quite intentionally, as the film follows the logic of a strange, sometimes erotic, sometimes horrifying dream. According to Buñuel: "No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted" throughout the film.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: Rates a 7 (very high for a 1929 movie), mainly because of the close-up of the eyeball being sliced open by a razor blade.
  • Non-Appearing Title: There is no dog seen in the entire movie. Especially not from Andalusia!
  • Random Events Plot: Probably the Ur-Example in film history.
  • Refuge in Audacity: This entire movie is meant to confuse, horrify and outrage viewers. The infamous eye slicing scene is very graphic for the time.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Not part of the plot, but on a meta level, the film itself could be seen as a Real Life example. While their aim was not failure, Dalí and Buñuel were definitely out to offend. The story goes that when they screened the film for the first time, the duo filled their pockets with rocks in order to defend themselves against the inevitably violent reactions from their audience. Much to their surprise and disappointment, however, the audience enjoyed it.
  • Surreal Music Video
  • Time Skip: The title cards sometimes say "eight years later", "sixteen years earlier" or "in Springtime", but there is little in the content to indicate an actual Time Skip. After the "sixteen years earlier" card, the movie picks up right where it was, in the exact same scene.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The woman who has her eye sliced apparently has both eyes functioning perfectly eight years later. Maybe it is not the same woman, but an identical-looking one.
  • Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: Someone's mouth disappears, soon to be replaced with armpit hair. It makes about as much sense as anything else in this movie.


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