Short Film Review – “Un Chien Andalou”

Somebody contact Jerry Seinfeld: this is what a show
about nothing really look like.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Simone Mareuil as the woman

Pierre Batcheff as the man

Written by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali

Directed by Luis Bunuel

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Past movie reviews can be found here.


This is the film that ushered in the surrealist
movement, launching
with a rather uncomfortable image and then moving
into a 17 minute
series of bizarre and fantastic images. Frame
enlargements are
available here
if you can stomach them.

Low Point

This time, I feel I have to list the low before the
high point. The
low point would be the feeling this gave me the first
time I watched
it. For the first time in my life, it felt like a
filmmaker was
actively trying to attack the audience, preying on
our compulsion to
try and make sense of a series of sequential shots
and images, and
assemble them into a coherent story. The attack was
through a series of incoherent and unrelated images,
which frequently
include some rather disturbing imagery, including
bloodlust, and rape.

High Point

The high point would be the result of the
aforementioned attack. My
second viewing of this film wasn’t particularly
voluntary. (My first
two viewings were in film studies courses, where your
only options are
to view the film or skip class. I chose to attend
the second
screening because the same session included films I
hadn’t seen
before.) After repeated viewings, I started to
realize how films are
built, and really understand the storytelling
structure. It’s easy to
miss the mechanics when you’ve grown up with them,
but when people
start to break the conventions and expectations, you
get the chance to
consciously seek out those broken conventions so that
you can better
identify them when they are in use. If you want to
figure out how
films are made, study this as a very effective

The Scores

I have to give points for originality. This
stuff is just
outright bizarre, and I’ve never seen its like in
anything older than
this. It launched the entire surrealist movement,
resulting in
similar films after it, but those filmmakers have to
admit the
influence of this piece. I give it 6 out of 6.

The effects are well done, particularly in
that opening
sequence, and with the ants in the hand. They look
convincing enough
to have an effect on every audience member I’ve
watched it with, some
of whom were remarkably cynical and jaded, many of
whom had seen the
film before. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is to be evaluated next. There
is no story.

That’s pretty much the entire point of the piece.
There is no
coherence or time continuity. I give it 0 out of 6.

The acting is the old fashioned overdone
stage acting that
was so common at the time, although they should have
started to
realize that wasn’t working by this point. I give it
3 out of 6.

The emotional response is always strong, but
is often
different with each viewing. The first viewing
usually generates an
intense hatred of the film, but I find that that has
turned into
morbid interest, grudging respect, and finally,
genuine enjoyment of
the effect they filmmakers can produce in the
audience. No matter who
I’ve watched as they watch this film, they show a
strong response that
the filmmakers desired. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production was a bit flaky.
Uninteresting camera angles,
uniform lighting, and several other trappings abound.
All the
innovation was saved for the content and editing,
while the
mise-en-scene was ten years out of date, a serious
problem for a
product this close to the experimental and evolving
days of early
cinema. I give it 3 out of 6, supported by the

Overall, it’s a film that most people will
hate, but some can
grow to appreciate. Recommended to sadists and film
students only. I
give it 3 out of 6.

In total, Un Chien Andalou recieves 27 out
of 42.

6 replies on “Short Film Review – “Un Chien Andalou””

  1. I’m weird that way
    I gotta tell you: I’m a little bit disapointed that your review wasn’t incoherant ;-)

    • Clearly, then, this calls for an alternate point of view

      High Point:

      A certain man has made a very special arrangement with the headmistresses of several girls’ schools; a man busily setting down six thing he would like to be. No smoking or pop!

      Low Point:

      Some of you will be interviewed on radio following the eyeball sequence, so dress accordingly.

      The Scores:

      Originality: 6/6 That Easter the salmon ran especially high, and Delores cast her pale eyes clandestinely on the rhododendron.

      Effects: 2/6 Too cute for pie, guv’nor.

      The Angry Mob: 4/6 He’s in the suit! He’s in the aisle! He’s in the rhododendrons!

      Acting: 4/6 Gorillas at large.

      Emotional Response: 5/6 The witch-turtle.

      The eyeball sequence: 4/6. Bring me the pliers! Five of your igloos are burning!

      Overall: 8/6

      In total, Un Chien Andalou receives 27/42

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