Surrealism

Surrealism

Films and Movie Memorabilia

Surrealism was a break from the avante-garde movement of European Dadaism in 1933, as Andre Breton developed an international movement titled Surrealism that had several distinct differences to Dadaism. Instead of randomness, chance and anarchy, Surrealism relied on the theories of Sigmund Freud and of the conscious and unconscious mind. Psychoanalysis was also explored which appealed to a language of dreams that critiqued social and moral repression within society. It used cinema as a means to tap into the unconscious mind without intervention of conscious thought and revolution, thinking and experiencing moments through fusion of the real and the surreal. Surrealism draws upon irrational imagery and the subconscious mind. Surrealists should not, however, be mistaken as whimsical or incapable of logical thought; rather, most Surrealists promote themselves as revolutionaries. Surrealist works cannot be defined by style or form, but rather as results of the practice of surrealism. Rather than a fixed aesthetic, surrealism can be defined as an ever-shifting art form. Surrealism was one of the first literary and artistic movements to become seriously associated with cinema, even though it still is a movement that is largely neglected by film critics and historians. The foundations of the surrealism movement coincided with the birth of motion pictures, and the Surrealists who participated in the movement were among the first generation to have grown up with film as a part of daily life. Surrealist artists were interested in cinema as a medium for expression. As cinema continued to develop in the 1920s, many Surrealists saw in it an opportunity to portray the ridiculous as rational. Cinema provided more convincing illusions than its closest rival, theatre, and the tendency for Surrealists to express themselves through film was a sign of their confidence in the adaptability of cinema to Surrealism’s goals and requirements. They were the first to take seriously the resemblance between film’s imaginary images and those of dreams and the unconscious. Director Luis Bunuel said, “The film seems to be the involuntary imitation of the dream.” Critics have debated whether “Surrealist film” constitutes a distinct genre because recognition of a cinematographic genre involves the ability to cite many works which share thematic, formal, and stylistic traits. To refer to Surrealism as a genre is to imply that there is repetition of elements and a recognizable, “generic formula” which describes their makeup. Several critics have argued that, due to Surrealism’s use of the irrational and on non-sequitur, it is impossible for Surrealist films to constitute a genre. While there are numerous films which are true expressions of the movement, many other films which have been classified as Surrealist simply contain Surrealist fragments. Rather than “Surrealist film” the more accurate term for such works may be “Surrealism in film.”



Surrealism
Featured Surrealism Films

Articles and Essays on Surrealism

Weekend (1967)

Jean-Luc Godard’s cathartically political and infuriating masterpiece Weekend is one of the key films of the late 1960’s. It is on one hand a chaotically brilliant black comedy and on the other hand a surrealistically acid disdain on the nihilistic bourgeoisie consumer society. Weekend is less like a film and more like a abstract angry political collage, as its pop art […]

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Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Within the world of artistry, tapping into the dreams and the unconscious mind have always been a fascinating theme to interpret and explore, and some of the great artists focus a lot of their ideas and theories in trying to understand the illogical mysteries of the conscious and unconscious. The great Spanish director Luis Bunuel once was asked what […]

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Exterminating Angel, The (1962)

Luis Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel is a cynical and macabre satire on the slow and deteriorating breakdown of human civilization, as Bunuel takes several wealthy bourgeois guests and purposely traps them all in an over populated room, which is similar to using mice to conduct a social experiment. At first these guests stay civilized, level-headed and continue using […]

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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The (1919)

Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is one of the most visually frightening and bizarre horror films of all time and the quintessential film that started the German Expressionism movement in early German cinema. German Expressionism is a style that was largely confined to Germany due to the isolation the country experienced during World War I and usually involved surreal […]

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Orpheus (1950)

“The legend of Orpheus is well-known. In Greek mythology, Orpheus was a troubadour from Thrace. He charmed even the animals. His songs diverted his attention from his wife Eurydice. Death took her away from him. He descended to the netherworld and used his charm to win permission to return with Eurydice to the world of […]

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Surrealism
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