Sunday, 13 September 2009

An Andalousian Dog and Salvador Dali

As part of the Salvador Dali exhibition at NGV, which is finishing soon, is the screening of Luis Buñuel 1929 short film, Un chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) upon which Dali collaborated. You can watch the whole film here.

Some observations about Dali’s influence on Buñuel’s film:

• The prologue for the film is a man stropping a razor. He holds the woman’s head back and slits her eye open. This is an infamous and shocking image designed grab our attention. If the eyes are the window to the soul then by opening the eye we are able to gaze deep into our subconscious and discover what our true motivations are.
• The full orbed moon is often a character in Dali’s work (we are reminded also of the moon which becomes the dancers head in Dali’s Disney animation) – here a substitute for the eye, with the trail of cloud an image of the cut of the razor

• A man’s suit is laid flat on the bed but it is empty. Like the drawings of Dali’s skin : there is no heart or body or brain; only the shell which has no substance within it.
• Does the androgynous figure on the road the represent goodness or morality? When she is run down by a car, the man, staring from the window is overcome with lust.
• He is unable to contain himself. He throws himself upon the woman and fondles her breasts through her dress. We see him as he imagines: the breast uncovered, his eyes rolled back in ecstasy and his mouth drooling.

• The woman escapes and as the man lunges at her, he is weighed down by two ropes which he pulls from the wall. The ropes drag two grand pianos, the carcasses of sheep and two priests. The guilt and shame of his lust drag on his conscience which has become rotten. We see his hand caught in the door, grabbing for the woman. This a similar image to the hand found washed up on the beach. Out of the palm of his hand is another familiar Dali motif: there is a rent in his hand with ants pouring out of it, eating his flesh
• The woman observes the new room but it is laid out like the first room and the film has a jump back in time of 16 years. The younger man becomes the older man against the wall and he chooses to turn and shoot the younger man. As he falls in death we see him fall past the woman he once loved but she is a mirage. She no longer has any love for what this man has become.
• The short film ends with the woman escaping to the beach where she meets the young man and asks him the time. He does not answer but shows her his watch. Is this her memory of a happy day many years in the past? Certainly the sunny beach in spring time is a familiar location for many of Dali’s happiest memories as a young boy on family holidays in Cadaqués on the Spanish coast.

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