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Friday, March 4, 2016

Movie Analysis : Un Chien Andalou/An Andalusian Dog

I have recently taken up a decision to complete studying the basic part of literature and fine arts.Just like you learn the alphabets in order to learn the real language. This was one of the half a dozen movies I have watched very recently and out of the 3 movies directed by Dali,this is the most striking one and talks of a million things in half an hour!Surrealism is one tool you can use to exhibit reality in the most prominent,real way without compromising the artsy-ness and the riddling sequence that blurs you out before sharpening the focus like nothing else can.I couldn't have certainly "reviewed" this ; I mean you need a PhD in theatre or fine arts from University of Hamburg to review such masterpieces.And I guess this was a challenging project indeed,to comprehend and consequently bring out the juxtaposing flavour,the contradictory attributes,the changes,the minute effects and their significance and especially when everything you need to know about sexuality and civilisation has been put into a piece of artwork that doesn't even continue for 30 full minutes!

(Photograph Source)

Movie Synopsis 
(Credit : Wikipedia)

The film opens with a title card reading "Once upon a time". A middle-aged man (Luis Buñuel) sharpens his razor at his balcony door and tests the razor on his thumb. He then opens the door, and idly fingers the razor while gazing at the moon, about to be engulfed by a thin cloud, from his balcony. There is a cut to a close-up of a young woman (Simone Mareuil) being held by the man as she calmly stares straight ahead. Another cut occurs to the moon being overcome by the cloud as the man slits the woman's eye with the razor, and the vitreous humour spills out from it.

The subsequent title card reads "eight years later". A slim young man (Pierre Batcheff) bicycles down a calm urban street wearing what appears to be a nun's habit and a striped box with a strap around his neck. A cut occurs to the young woman from the first scene, who has been reading in a sparingly furnished upstairs apartment. She hears the young man approaching on his bicycle and casts aside the book she was reading (revealing a reproduction of Vermeer's The Lacemaker). She goes to the window and sees the young man lying on the curb, his bicycle on the ground. She emerges from the building and attempts to revive the young man.

Later, the young woman assembles pieces of the young man's clothing on a bed in the upstairs room, and concentrates upon the clothing. The young man appears near the door. The young man and the young woman stare at his hand, which has a hole in the palm from which ants emerge. A slow transition occurs focusing on the armpit hair of the young woman as she lies on the beach and a sea urchin at a sandy location. There is a cut to an androgynous young woman in the street below the apartment, poking at a severed hand with a cane while surrounded by a large crowd and a policeman.

The crowd clears when the policeman places the hand in the box previously carried by the young man and gives it to the young woman. The androgynous young woman contemplates something happily while standing in the middle of the now busy street clutching the box. She is then run over by a car and a few bystanders gather around her. The young man and the young woman watch these events unfold from the apartment window. The young man seems to take sadistic pleasure in the androgynous young woman's danger and subsequent death, and as he gestures at the shocked young woman in the room with him, he leers at her and grasps her breasts.

The young woman resists him at first, but then allows him to touch her as he imagines her nude from the front and the rear. The young woman pushes him away as he drifts off and she attempts to escape by running to the other side of the room. The young man corners her as she reaches for a racquet in self-defense, but he suddenly picks up two ropes and drags two grand pianos containing dead and rotting donkeys, stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, and two rather bewildered priests (played by Jaime Miravilles and Salvador Dalí) who are attached by ropes. As he is unable to move, the young woman escapes the room. The young man chases after her, but she traps his hand, which is infested with ants, in the door. She finds the young man in the next room, dressed in his nun's garb in the bed.

The subsequent title card reads "around three in the morning". The young man is roused from his rest by the sound of a door-buzzer ringing (represented visually by a martini shaker being shaken by a set of arms through two holes in a wall). The young woman goes to answer the door and does not return. Another young man dressed in lighter clothing (also played by Pierre Batcheff) arrives in the apartment, gesturing angrily at him. The second young man forces the first one to throw away his nun's clothing and then makes him stand against a wall.

The subsequent title card reads "Sixteen years ago." We see the second young man from the front for the first time as he admires the art supplies and books on the table near the wall and forces the first young man to hold two of the books as he stares at the wall. The first young man eventually shoots the second young man when the books abruptly turn into pistols. The second young man, now in a meadow, dies while swiping at a nude figure which suddenly disappears into thin air. A group of men come and carry his corpse away.

The young woman returns to the apartment and sees a death's-head moth. The first young man sneers at her as she retreats and wipes his mouth off his face with his hand. The young woman very nervously applies some lipstick in response. Subsequently the first young man makes the young woman's armpit hair attach itself to where his mouth would be on his face through gestures. The young woman looks at the first young man with disgust, and leaves the apartment sticking her tongue out at him.

As she exits her apartment, the street is replaced by a coastal beach, where the young woman meets a third man with whom she walks arm in arm. He shows her the time on his watch and they walk near the rocks, where they find the remnants of the first young man's nun's clothing and the box. They seem to walk away clutching each other happily and make romantic gestures in a long tracking shot. However, the film abruptly cuts to the final shot with a title card reading "In Spring," showing the couple buried in sand up to their elbows.

Movie Analysis

The movie is basically very unique even within other examples of surrealistic approach.Being a joint direction of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali,the masterpiece revolves around the dreaded and scary sides of our ultra modern lives.It clearly depicts that we do not even realise how brutal we are turning because the turns so brutally present moments in front of us.
The couple somewhere becomes representative of mechanical "love" that strains our eyes and darkens our soul to an extent where we become static and loose all our dynamism.And love,after all,is not supposed to bury us,to cover up all our thoughts and overwhelmingly make the us unit a source of narcissism and neglect.
The middle aged man in the absolute first scene obtrusively tests the razor on his hand,when a thin cloud passes over the moon and subsequently the razor makes its way through the eye of the lady,operated by his hands.
The cloud actually does not pass over the moon,the phenomena is apparent because clouds are what is in front of us,much closer and the moon is far,further away.But what appears to be is that the cloud covers the moon.Similarly,what apparently happens,what seems to be is that the vitreous humor of her eye spills out as the razor passes through her eye but what happens is that her vision is snatched away from her.

In the next scene,a man in the attire of a nun is seen to bicycle the way down towards the house of the woman from the first scene.He falls infront of the building in which the woman lives and the woman comes down and tries to revive him.The man had a box hanging around his neck and she brings it with her and opens it to find a tie,perhaps signifying ties,or connection.She keeps this with him,only to meet this young man again outside the door.The entire scene incites thoughts that elements of romanticism are existent between the two and they are now seen to observe and take pleasure out of brutality.The next scene shows the androgynous woman poking at a severed hand with a stick,after which she is presented the same by the protectors of law and order in a similar looking box that was seen with the young man when he was on the bicycle.She stands there,tranquil and lost in thoughts with the box in her hand.This somehow produces a feeling that the severed hand was that of her lover,given that box which had a tie,signifying connection.She stands there until she is hit and run over by a car and the couple inside the building seem half-pleased and half-unaffected.Right after this,the man stares at the woman's breasts nastily,which exhibits the current situation more really than realism would ever have."We are lost in our sufferings and our pleasures are the seal".......the man then physically gives form to what was in his mind and he is shown to be an incarnation of a blood thirsty animal as he pleasures himself with her curves.He is subsequently burdened,as he pulls two pianos,stuffed with cows with bleeding eyes and two men who are nearly strangled in the process.The burden prevents him from reaching her,which so clearly captures our own selves turning so worldly that the pressures around us haunt our souls and we materially colour ourselves to fit situations and bring utmost pseudo-satiety with flesh and skin and bones.The repetition of the scene with ants coming out of a hole in the palm of the man is shown,perhaps showing how rotten,how icky,how dreaded brutality is and what it does is engulf the soul,slowly eat it away.(This scene has a different meaning according to me in 'Destino'.)
The woman,at the end just changes route from "availing" this man to another and a scene shows her armpit hair to grow over the lip-less man's face...perhaps signifying doomed expression or speech as they dive deeper into perversions that are however never accepted as perversions.The man seems to be confused when they travel to the seashore and the woman then kisses him  right after which they are shown to walk along together.At the last scene,the man and woman are seen to be semi-burried in the sand : static,indifferent and turned to the verge of living and non-living,in the dreary realm that blinds us of vision in the current times.

Special Note : Simone Mareuil has been a brave woman to do what she did in that movie.Not judging her my her sufferings and death but by her creativity,understanding and courage,she has been a beautiful actress throughout.

Overall score :- 5/5

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