In conjunction with the Art Gallery of Ontario’s excellent exhibition Surreal Things – which we reviewed HERE, Cinematheque Ontario is screening an impressive series of Surrealist films.
A still from Un Chien Andalou, 1929. Image: midnightcafe.com
The films include Un Chien Andalou (1929), Surrealism’s most famous film, by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel. Billed as “a staggering assault on beauty and normality”, the film is of course a non-sensical series of events that occur between a ‘wife’ and her ‘lover’, depicted in black and white with a wonderful soundtrack. The film’s famous scene where a woman’s eyeball is cut open is presented casually, at the film’s start, as if to prepare the viewer for what they are in for. (Nothing too unnerving, it turns out)
Salvador Dalí. Portrait of Luis Buñuel. 1924. Image: laha.wordpress.com
Also on view is Germaine Dulac’s phantasmagorical La Coquille et le clergyman (1927), which is about the erotic hallucinations of a priest lusting after the wife of a general. Female filmmakers were unusual at the time, though Dulac was engaged and successful as a director. Her work ranged from the commerical to the avant garde and her subject matter was feminist – focusing on marriage, romance and adultery.
A still from La Coquille et le clergyman, 1927. Image: berkeley.edu
San Fransisco curator Irina Leimbacher says “Though her work is not explicitly lesbian…it does include a critique of the heterosexual institution of marriage.” Her films are “great fun. Some of them are over-the-top melodramas, some are morality tales, and some are the most radical avant-garde experiments of the ’20s.”
The rather wonderful Pour vos beaux yeux by Henri Storck is a film long thought lost, but the film’s negative was recently discovered and restored by the Cinémathèque française. It’s also screening.
Under the Spell: Surrealism and the Cinema is on view from May 22 to July 8 and features both popular and underground films affiliated with this revolutionary movement that liberated desire and the imaginary from reality’s constraints.
Click HERE for more information.