Tuesday 12 November, h 19.15, EYE: Films as dreams- subversive, shocking and hilarious – by young artists in Paris who surrendered themselves to l’amour fou. With the surrealist classics Un Chien Andalu (1928) and L’age d’or by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, presented with cello performance by Harald Austbø.
The movement of Surrealism in Film will be introduced by Anna Abrahams, programmer EYE, experimental film director and teacher at KABK. And we will not document this evening through a traditional video recording but ask you, the public, to do it through the ÉCRITURE AUTHOMATIQUE.
The movement of Surrealism was inspired by the literary and visual experimentations of Dadaism in the 1910s/20s and expressed itself in the visual arts, literature, theatre, film and music, as well as political thought and practice, philosophy, and social theory. It was an experimental aesthetic school, operating mostly in Paris, that sought unmediated contact with the unconscious. It was inspired by Freud’s work of free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious. Surrealists were busy in developing methods to liberate imagination from false rationality, and restrictive customs and structures and to understand the actual functioning of thought, first through the “pure psychic automatism” of writing, proposed by the Bureau of Surrealist Research (among the members: André Breton, Philippe Soupault, Louis Aragon, Antonin Artaud) and later on, by the juxtapositions of some more or less distant realities within a framework.
In his Surrealist Manifesto of 1924 André Breton said : “The more the relationship between the two juxtaposed realities is distant and true, the stronger the image will be – the greater its emotional power and poetic reality….” Surrealist artists painted unnerving, illogical scenes, created strange creatures from everyday objects and developed painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. The surrealist films featured the element of surprise, unexpected counterpoints and unlinear narrative. The ultimate aim was to resolve the contradictions between dream and reality.
Breton maintained: “I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality.” (Surrealist Manifesto) Dreams definitely were effective in providing humanity with a vision of the unconscious. However, the most profound surrealistic state was that of the conscious hallucination. This was the true marriage of the unconscious and the conscious states.
Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí: Un Chien Andalou (1928) 16’ .
The film, generally considered to be the masterpiece of surrealist cinema, was made by the painter Salvador Dali and his college friend Luis Buñuel (1900–1983). By 1927, the influence of surrealism was apparent in Dali’s painting, although he was not officially a member of the movement. Buñuel had worked in the film industry through bit parts, odd jobs, and film criticism and was looking to become a director. The idea for the film came from an encounter between two of their dreams.
Luis Buñuel: L’Age d’or (1930) 62’.
This work, one of the first sound films made in France, is a surrealist comedy directed by Luis Buñuel about the insanities of modern life, the hypocrisy of the sexual mores of bourgeois society and the value system of the Roman Catholic Church. The screenplay is by Dalí and Buñuel. In The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (1942), Dalí laments being “terribly disappointed,” as the film “was but a caricature of my ideas.” When it was received as a sensation by Surrealists and Parisian cinephiles, Dalí capitulated: “The film possessed an undeniable evocative strength, and my disavowal of the film would have been understood by no one.”
Please find here the hand-out:
Hand Out Surrealism
Text by Anna Dabrowska.