Silent Films – Chien Andalou

Chien Andalou was made by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali in 1929; the plot itself is uneasy to follow: however, it is a film of emotions: sexual aggression between two people. The beginning ‘Once upon a time’ leads the viewer into a false sense of hope; as we assume that this means there will be a happy ending. Yet, this tale is of murder and pain. Some critics argue that this film is remnant to dreams; how they jump around and do not always make sense. The sense of time ‘8 years later’ and ‘3 in the morning’ give us an odd sense of time scale which further consolidates this thought.

What I like about this film is the use of actors and then crossing to shots of objects that highlight the situation or predetermines the plot. For example at the beginning, the clouds going over the moon is symbolic of cutting open the eye. And enthusiast has watched the film hundreds of times trying to unpick its meaning which can be seen here.

For my assignment for ‘Working with Light’ I am to create a narrative with photography; I would like to use moving images in my work too. What I would like to take from this is the imagery; how a stripy box can make the viewer question its purpose, for example.

The film is shot so that the light casts deep shadows so that people and objects are not evenly lit: using small light sources such as lamps. This adds to the ambiguity in the film.

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