In an effort to flesh out its library, today the FAM presents Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog), the 1928 film by surrealists Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí and the quintessential “art film”. Most famous for its opening scene, in which a man, played by Buñuel, slices open the eye of a woman with a straight razor, Un Chien Andalou is an almost perfect summation of the Surrealist movement. Things happen in Un Chien Andalou, their relationship to one another dictated by the logic of dreams. Scenes lurch violently along in time and characters exhibit a confusing, rapid-fire succession of emotions. It’s a movie that is open to a vast range of interpretations, and in true Surrealist form Buñuel rejected every one of them, stating, “Nothing, in the film, symbolizes anything. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis.”
Despite the director’s expectations — they supposedly attended the premier with pockets full of rocks should a horrified audience become violent — the film was well received. In a sad twist, both of the leading actors of the film eventually committed suicide. Pierre Batcheff overdosed on Veronal in a hotel in Paris in 1932, and Simone Mareuil doused herself in gasoline and burned herself to death in a public square in Périgueux, Dordogne in 1954. In the ensuing years since its debut Un Chien Andalou has been recognized as a seminal moment in the history of cinema, a staple of any film buff’s diet. Now the FAM can rest easy, knowing that there is at least some modicum of credibility found herein should it be placed under the glaring eye of some future, internet historian.
And just remember, it’s only a cow’s eye.