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Transcript of SURREALISM
What is Surrealism?
Not a big budget
mixture of diagetic and non diagetic sounds
goes against mainstream ideologies
Surrealism is an artistic and literary movement in which is dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention. This can be achieved by the exercising the imagination of the "unconscious mind" to the point of being a dream like interpretation of reality. Surrealists believe that this interpretation of reality can bring personal,cultural, social revolution, life of freedom and uninhibited sexuality.
Surrealist cinema has been influenced by the modernist approach to surrealistic art forms of Paris in the 1920s. With relation to Dada cinema, Surrealist cinema is characterized by juxtapositions, the rejection of dramatic psychology, and the use of shocking imagery to stun the viewer and make them question society.
video of shocking imagery
Values and Attitudes
Surrealism emerged in the aftermath of WWI. Along with the Dadaism that prepared the way for it, it was a rejection of bourgeois values and showed that money was not needed in todays world. It attacked the pretensions of high art. When Marcel Duchamp painted a moustache on the Mona Lisa in 1919, he captured the spirit of this movement and challenged the normal values of society.
The Dada movement primarily involved visual arts, literature, poetry, art manifestos, art theory, theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. Dada was also anti-bourgeois as well as anti- war and had political ideas connected with what was happening at the time.
Salvidor used symbolism very closely in his creations, animals appear throughout his work as well,ants symbolising death, decay, and immense sexual desire, the snail is connected to the human head and locusts are a symbol of waste and fear. The linking back of everyday objects and creatures in the art work is what made Surrealism so special.
Dalí was best known for the symbolic and bizarre images in his surrealist work whether it be art or film. Dalí's impressive artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media forms.
Buñuel's films were famous for their surreal imagery, including scenes in which chickens populate nightmares, women grow beards, and aspiring saints are desired by lascivious women.Buñuel found working in Mexico interesting as they appreciated the culture of Melodrama. Bunuel was significantly influenced by Dada with evidence Cet obscur objet du désir, when Mathieu closes his eyes and has his valet spin him around and direct him to a map on the wall. Buñuel never explained or promoted his work, staying true to its symbolic interpretationand wanted the audience to see it how there mind did. Un chien Andalou of 1929 was one of Bunuels most famous films as well as the most well known surrealist film of all time. The non linear dream logic shows a series of unrelated clips attempting to shock and distress the viewer. The camera angles used help with the unrealistic plot line as well as sexualised objects and people as seen in the clip below.
The video above shows examples of shocking imagery in surrealist films put into place to stun the viewer, we see an eye ball being slit open, ants crawling out of someones hand and many dream like sequences that could be portrayed as "dream like" or make believe scenarios
The aim was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality." Artists painted unnerving, illogical scenes with photographic precision, created strange creatures from everyday objects and developed painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement and invited those who were set out to rebel against the mainstream forces after the war.
Juxtaposition used for disturbing effect
unable to connect to the characters
characters usually have no empathy
nothing out of bounds
usually small cast
Surrealism theatre is an overly anti-narrative form of art which aims to confuse the viewer to what the narrative logic behind the piece is. Sexual desire, violence and bizzarre humour add to these events. Surealisms aim is to question art as we know it and let the viewer interperate what is seen as they want with no real explanation made by the director. The clip below shows the representation of the male and female and how they connect through relationships. Quite casual filming style is used with mid close ups on the two characters faces.
The surrealist techniques are site of conflicting impulses. Film is a privileged medium for staging such ambivalent identities. Surrealism question the categorizing of man and woman, real and unreal, human or animal by incorporating incomplete narratives, interpolated shots and unstable images to make you question your perception of reality. As seen in the clips below we see a range of different camera angles and clip shots including close ups and panning across the screen to formulate a non narrative theme.
Surrealist films closely relate to the theme of the female body and how women are portrayed in mainstream society. Surrealist films often break down logic with sexual themes and actions. In the clip below we see that at twenty two minutes the representation of women through the eyes of men not only in the 1930s but in even the 21st century as a sexual object in our world.
The surrealist image was seen as either verbal or pictorial and had a twofold function.
1.The images that seem incompatible with each other should be juxtaposed together this creates startling analogies that disrupt the audience and snap them out of the enjoyment and conventional expectations that art offers, perhaps showing influence of Soviet montage theory.
2. The visual images must mark the beginning of an exploration into the unknown rather than just representing a thing of beauty. The surrealist experience of beauty involved psychic disturbances, generated by the startling images and the analogies they create in the mind of the viewer.
The above video of Salvidor's work shows the vibrant and abstract themes to his pieces which rubbed off significantly in his films. The symbolism of clocks Dali uses is in place to trick the mind to thinking "what really is time?". The use of abract illusions allows the viewer to see multiple images and meanings in the one image.
"dada is what you make it out yourself"
As the start of the video above shows, Dadaism as a movement hugely influenced Surrealism through vibrant art and political protest. Dadaist had a bad reputation in 1916 as they were seen to protest and cause trouble.
Surrealism was a revolutionary movement changing politics forever. The “dynamic years” of Surrealism (1924-38) are identified by the
political action of those involved maintaining a steady Communist line during the 1920s. By the end of the War, the Dadaists were anarchists, and many future Surrealists joined them. Feeling that government systems guided by tradition and reason had led mankind into the unforgettable events in history, insisting that non-government was better. The Russian Revolution and the spread of Communism provided a channel for Surrealist protests during the 1920s. Surrealism brought the ideas forward to improve the society after world war 1. Surrealism was based on hope wanting to create rather than destroy, mainly through poetry. The Surrealists almost naively believed that beauty, freedom, and love were poetry and all were interchangeable.
Surrealism was heavily influenced by Freudian ideas of the unconscious and particularly the notion of dreams as states uncontrolled by reason.
Surrealists were interested in the Id, the primitive, uncivilized area of the mind where repressed sexuality and other desires resided. For many, like Freud the sexual drive (libido) was thought to be the strongest human impulse and the key to life.
Repressed sexuality and desire are key themes of classic surrealist film
The Influence of Freud
As 21th century viewers we look to mainsteam cinema to satisfy our entertainment. Surrealist films highly challenges the mainstream story lines we are all used to seeing eg romantic comedy or adventure. Surrealism uses anti- narrative techniques such as unscensored thought, shocking imagery, elements of suprise and dream like sequences.
Man Ray moved into Surrealism with Emak Bakia (1927), using many film tricks to suggest a woman's mental state for example quick cuts, manipulation of point of view and camera angles. At the end she is seen in a famous image, her eyes closed, with eye balls painted on them, representing they may be watching but do they care, and are they paying attention to you? She opens her eyes and smiles at the camera. L'étoile de mer (The Starfish, 1928), shows a couple in love, interspersed with random shots of starfish, trains, and other objects. At the end the woman leaves with another man, and her cast-off lover consoles himself with a beautiful starfish.
In the film Un Chien Andalou as seen above shown above the film starts today and then moves to eight years in the future, following dream like sequencing
Narrative and continuity expectations are denied with connections among events being dissolved while character psychology is un existant. e.g unnamed characters in Un chien Andalou, the use of title cards in the same film 'once upon a time', 'eight years later'.
Surrealists attempted to disrupt narrative conventions of time and space, of plot, character
and causality. To disorientate to spectator and render to unconscious, irrational world of
dreams. Often through a series of powerful, seemingly unconnected images.
Being John Malkovich (1999) explores a more modern approach to Surrealism as we knew it, it shows in a more comedic way how the unconscious mind works. Also employing themes of sexual desire and frustration with the two main characters. As seen in the clip John falls down a light tunnel before a slow pan up into a dream like sequence.
The symbolic scene in Au Chien Andalou showing a womens eye ball being slit opened shocked audiences around the world and changed how confonting images were seen on the big screen
2010s popular Hollywood movie "Inception" also shows how Surrealism techniques have developed and are still being used today although now encompassing more procession story lines and understandable to the audience.
After world war 1 surrealist films, being so differant and radical were frowned upon in mainstream society because of the shock felt by the audience. Because of this poor reception from the world surrealist directors were forced to rely on private small cinemas and art houses ( consisted of left wing people and other surrealists) The targeted audience for Surrealist films consisted mainly of the believers and strivers from the a or b category of jobs. The values promoted by these people was typically wanting a better world after the war. These lower classes of society would be targeted audience because of the open art houses being cheap or free of charge to enter as surrealists just wanted there ideas out in the world. The popular movie "Donnie darko" (2006) is not necessarily seen as a surrealist movie but it in fact is an example of how the movement is still influencing directors. The use of quick changes between scenes that have no link leaves the audience in pure confusion as the main character goes in and out of a port hole ( dream like/futuristic) The positive reception this movie got from audiences all around the world shows how we have adapted differant techniques together in order to create an intriguing piece to watch.
Readings of Surrealism
close up low camera
angle man eating gold coins
symbolic to how society relies
on money like a food source
At 3:30 the audience is
made to feel uncomfortable
with a high pitch diagetic noise
and the symbolic scrubbing
blood off her hands
Personification of a doll in a
dream like sequence
Production controls & constraints
André Masson's "Gradiva" depicts a woman whose stomach and pelvis has been transformed into a raw steak, and her vagina into a violating clam equipped with what looks like a set of fangs. A swarm of bees is attracted to her because of the rotting body behind her being an erupting volcano, symbolizing the menace of female sexuality. Based on a character in a 1903 Fread book he had analyzes the figure as representing the unconscious desire.
With surrealist films being such a radical movement in the 20th century, directors were constrained to limited or no profit to make the film successful.This pulled Surrealists away from the commercialized film industry where the confronting images were frowned upon anyway. The low buget productions often meant that sets were minimal and reused throughout the film. For example in Un Chien Andalou, we only see two distinct set changes, outside and inside one large room, the use of different camera angles allows the audience too see the room differently every time the camera quickly changes, often using effects of the slides dissolving in front or behind each other. Although these two easy sets were affective for the movie it also allowed the directors to control lighting in such a confined space. With the development of new technology eg camera lenses and shot frames surrealism developed further as time went on. As surrealists worked outside the commercial business that film at the time was they relied on wealthy individuals to help fund the projects.
Man Ray born August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976 was an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. He was a significant contributor to the Surrealist movement, He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all and had a high love for the fine arts. Best known for his photography, fashion and portrait photographer. Ray is also noted for his work with photograms.