Surrealist cinema was born out of the ideology and visual experiments of the Surrealist Movement, which began in 1924 when a group of writers and artists issued a “Surrealist Manifesto” in Paris.

The movement rejected logic and reason (as defined by modern society) in favor of unleashing the unconscious mind — as evidenced by dreams, free association, and other spontaneous methods — to reveal what they saw as the true functioning of human beings.

It started with artworks by Salvador Dali and Max Ernst, but soon extended to all sorts of media: photography, poetry, painting, theatre plays, music, sculpture and film.

Most people (especially cinephiles) recognize surrealism through the iconic image of a woman’s eyeball being slit with a razor in Luis Bunuel’s infamous Un Chien Andalou.


What Is Surrealist cinema

What Is Surrealist cinema?

The Surrealist movement was very important in the history of cinema. It marked a significant moment, a point where the radical ideas and images of Surrealism seeped into the world of film and changed it forever.

While many people watch surrealist films without knowing that they are watching a film that is surreal, there are many others who are attracted to these films specifically because they operate outside of our accepted ideas of how reality should be portrayed on film.

Surrealism started as an anti-establishment art movement that grew into a literary and cinematic trend.

Surrealist filmmakers used various techniques to break the rules of filmmaking, including unexpected juxtapositions, scenes that have no logical connection to the story, dream sequences, and non-linear plotting.



What Is Surrealist Cinema?

Surrealist cinema is a genre of film characterized by its exploration of the subconscious through imagery and symbolism.

The movement itself began in the early 1920s as a means of countering previous tendencies in the film industry, specifically realism, which was seen as trite and unimaginative by many artists of the time.

Surrealist cinema has made its way into mainstream filmmaking, but it has also developed into an entirely new genre, one that explores themes and ideas that are often considered taboo or strange.

Some critics have gone so far as to suggest that Surrealism is actually more popular today than it was when it began in the 1920s, due to the fact that many new filmmakers are drawn to its themes and ideas.

Check out our deep-dive into surrealist film to learn more:

Color plays a significant role in all surrealist films. While many early surrealist films were black and white, color was slowly incorporated throughout the 20th century into this style of filmmaking.

There are some directors who are known for using specific colors in their films, such as pink and blue.

These color choices help establish moods within the story itself, and they can also be used to elicit an emotional response from viewers.

In film, surrealism attempted to break down the boundaries between reality and fantasy in order to access what they saw as deeper truths behind everyday existence.

Surrealist cinema sought to move beyond everything that came before it.

It was a reaction against narrative cinema, which Surrealists saw as a falsely optimistic view of life.

The movement also reacted against the conventions of early avant-garde art films that relied on rigid structures such as found footage and collage.

Surrealist filmmakers often experimented with new techniques including:

  • nonlinear narratives,
  • animation,
  • jump cuts,
  • Photomontage,
  • superimpositions,
  • dissolves,
  • and other visual tricks to bend reality.

They favored subjects that revealed the underbelly of society, such as crime, sexuality, class conflict, madness, and dreams. Many were political radicals.

History Of Surrealist Cinema

History Of Surrealist Cinema is a film that was made in the United States of America in the year 1979. It was directed by Luis Bunuel and produced by Serge Silberman. The movie is about a surrealist painter (played by Bunuel) who is trying to paint a woman.

He goes to great lengths to do this, but he never succeeds.Throughout the entire movie, he does everything that is necessary to get what he wants, but for some reason it never works out for him.

The entire movie has this same theme throughout it, and that theme is hopelessness and unhappiness.The movie begins with a man (who is actually the painter from earlier) who is being thrown into the ocean.

He tries desperately not to go under water, and after he fails, he starts yelling at people that are standing on land beside him.He yells at them because they were apparently “too late” (according to one of the men on land).

After the man sinks below the surface of the water, his body floats up onto shore where a couple of men walk up to him and throw dirt onto his body. They do this because they think he’s dead, but then all of a sudden, he gets up and begins walking around.

Essential Filmmakers Of Surrealist Cinema

One of the most important things about Surrealist cinema is that it is non-narrative. It has no plot and no dialogue. Though it may be presented as a story, there is not one.

This is because the Surrealists used their medium to express their inner thoughts and feelings.Titicut Follies was filmed in 1965 at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane.

It is shot in black-and-white and runs for 53 minutes.The film was made by Frederick Wiseman, a controversial filmmaker who gained access to the hospital (which had been closed to the public) under the assumption that he was creating a film about its staff.

The film depicts violent scenes of prisoners being beaten, harassed, and punished in ways that are shocking to modern audiences.It shows naked men standing in a line while being sprayed with hoses; another man is thrown into his cell naked, then left without clothing or bedding for days; another prisoner is shown screaming incoherently as nurses laugh at him; a man with severe mental illness stands in his own urine for days on end; and still others are shackled together naked and forced to fight each other.

Titicut Follies has been described by some as cruel and exploitative.

Essential Films Of Surrealist Cinema

Surrealism emerged as an art movement in the early 1920s, and since then artists have used surrealist techniques in a variety of disciplines.The term “surrealism” has also come to be applied to a range of artistic genres.

Surrealist cinema is characterized by the juxtaposition of unexpected and illogical imagery, and the exploration of dream logic and subconscious associations which are said to reveal aspects of a non-rational side of human experience.The movement began in France in the 1920s, where it was led by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí.

Early surrealist films like Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Âge d’Or (1930) were made without sound and were noted for their avant-garde visual style.Surrealist cinema was part of the modernist movement and had relatively little influence on mainstream film making, but it did have an impact on the developing aesthetic of commercial narrative cinema in Western Europe.

In particular, Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds (1963), one of his most popular thrillers, has been interpreted as having a strong surrealist aesthetic. Some critics have suggested that Hitchcock’s work is marked by surrealist features such as non-linear narrative and jarring discontinuities.

Surrealist cinema is a film movement which began in the 1920s and continues to the present day. Its most salient feature is the desire to depict the subjective, unconscious, irrational aspects of human experience; while not being bound by realism or naturalism.


The Seashell And The Clergyman (1928)

In the town of Bruges there once lived a clergyman who had gone to the seashore on a holiday. He was a good man and a conscientious man, and he was interested in shells.

So diligent did he become that soon he knew more about the habits of sea-snails than anyone else in Bruges, and people came from miles around to consult him on delicate questions concerning shellfish.One day, as he sat musing beside the sea, he heard an old woman say to another: “There is nothing harder than for us women to know whose hand we should accept.”

And when she had gone her way the clergyman said:”I have found the hardest thing in life; it is easier to find a wife than to find one’s wife.”

The ending of this story is not typical, but it teaches a valuable life lesson. The moral at the end of the story is that you should be yourself and not try to be someone else.

The little boy was trying to be like another person because he thought that other person was better than him. He kept trying to change himself, but in the end, he didn’t need to change anything about himself, because he was perfect the way he was.

L’etoile De Mer (1928)

“L’Etoile De Mer” is a short film by Georges Méliès. It was released in 1928 and is an adaptation of the fairy tale “The Star of the Sea”.

In this film, a beautiful mermaid appears on the shore of a beach and dances while she sings. She attracts a handsome young man who falls in love with her at first sight.

He takes her in his arms, kisses her and throws her into the sea, where shetransforms into a fish.This playful dance and song are accompanied by three musicians in sailor’s suits: two sailors playing accordion and tambourine, and a black sailor playing the pitch pipe (the “petit flutiau”).

The lyrics tell us that the mermaid has come from faraway lands to dance on the beach for men. She sings about how happy she is to see them and how much she loves them.

She invites them to come closer to her so that they can touch her breasts which are covered with pearls. As soon as the young man approaches the mermaid to kiss her, she begins to transform into a fish.

She struggles against it but finally gives up and jumps into the sea where she becomes a beautiful goldfish.

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

A man sharpens a woman’s eye-teeth on a grindstone. A woman spits into a man’s eye.

A hand reaches into the slit in the first man’s shirt and pulls out a heart, which starts beating. The hand then tries to stab the heart with a nail, but it just penetrates flesh, not heart tissue.

The blood spurts upwards, forms an abstract sculpture of a heart, and then falls back down upon the characters’ heads in thick red gobs. The camera does not cut away from this scene until it is over.’

Un Chien Andalou is one of those films that is impossible to describe without making it sound awful. It’s short – scarcely more than eight minutes – but it’s filled with images that are more vivid than anything you’ll have seen on screen before.

There’s not necessarily any story (although there is what you could call a plot), and some of the images seem to have been thrown together at random.

The surrealist film-maker Luis Buñuel made it in 1929 with Salvador Dalí, who later said that he had nothing to do with its creation: he simply improvised while Buñuel shot whatever he suggested. And yet Un Chien Andalou is a masterpiece of cinema.

L’Age d’Or (1930)

L’Âge d’Or is a 1930 French silent film directed by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. It was Buñuel’s first film and is considered to be the starting point of his career.

It explores the themes of Catholicism and anti-clericalism, atheism, sexual perversion and eroticism.Listen up you big stupid idiot, it’s your lucky day because today I’m going to teach you how to buy a car!

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Importance Of Surrealist Cinema

There is a reason why Surrealist cinema has become such a popular genre in recent times. A lot of people are not fully aware of the fact that this genre has been around for ages, and it has had a huge impact on movies as we know them today.

It would be a mistake to dismiss Surrealist cinema as simply “weird”. In reality, it is far more than that.

The ideas behind Surrealist cinema have influenced the lives of many people all over the world, and even though this genre might not be for everyone, there is no doubt that it deserves our attention.

What Is Surrealism? You might be wondering what exactly surrealism is.

Surrealism is an artistic movement founded by André Breton in 1924 and officially recognized by the French government in 1933. Breton staged Dada performances in Paris between 1916 and 1918.

He also edited the literary journal Littérature from 1919 to 1929. Breton’s first attempt to define his new movement was in his essay “What Is Surrealism?” which was published in 1936, but he later developed his thoughts on surrealism considerably in his seminal work, the Second Manifesto of Surrealism (1929).

Although surrealists had different opinions about how their movement.

Surrealist Cinema Theory

Surrealist Cinema Theory is the term used by scholars to describe the films of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. These directors, along with a few others, believed that movies could be an effective way to communicate their artistic philosophy Buñuel and Dalí were highly influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis and Dadaism.

They wanted to create films that expressed their view of the irrational nature of reality. To do so, they used Freudian dream symbolism in their films.

They also used a technique called “the paranoiac-critical method.”

This involved watching someone else’s film while under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug. This allowed them to see the world as they wanted to see it.

The end result was a movie that was full of dream imagery but still made sense in terms of plot and character development.The strange camera angles and editing effects added to this sense of unreality as well as the unusual casting choices.

In Un Chien Andalou, for example, a woman is sliced in half by a razor at the beginning of the film while she is sleeping.The story has no explanation for this event or its consequences.

It is simply presented as part of life. Un Chien Andalou is considered one of the best.

Surrealist Cinema – Wrapping Up

There is no doubt that Surrealist Cinema is one of the most interesting and revolutionary movements to have ever taken place in the history of cinema. It was a movement that had a great influence on the world of art, and it influenced cinema like no other movement at that time.

Trying to summarize the entire Surrealist Cinema movement in just a few words is not an easy task, but I will do my best to describe it in its entirety while focusing on the main points of this movement.Surrealist cinema began in Paris in the 1920s as an innovative and revolutionary cinematic movement.

Its main goal was to present a new way of looking at images and reality itself. The French poet André Breton believed that Surrealism should not be limited to paintings, sculptures or writings.

He felt that art should move beyond these forms and into the world of cinema. In 1930 he organized the first surrealist film festival where five avant-garde films were shown for the first time.

These movies were very different from what audiences had seen before.They were full of experimental techniques, such as slow motion, stop motion, superimposition, double exposure, framing shots in extreme close ups or extreme long shots and so on.

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