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Old 06-13-2016   #1
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Topic Winner Surrealist Film

A general discussion of the genre, including directors, literature dedicated to the subject, etc.

This is my life. This is my damnation. This is my only regret--that I ever was born.

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Old 06-13-2016   #2
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Re: Surrealist Film

To begin with, I'd strongly recommend Surrealism and Film by the always reliable J.H. Matthews (probably the most perceptive American critic of surrealism of the 20th century) and The Shadow and Its Shadow: Surrealist Writings on the Cinema edited by Paul Hammond, which collects the surrealists' own writings on film from the the beginnings of the movement through 2000; both make for essential reading on the subject.

"When a man is born. . .there are nets flung at (his being) to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets." - James Joyce
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Old 06-13-2016   #3
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Re: Surrealist Film

Though nobody officially designates it as surrealist, I am sure A Page of Madness was at least influenced by surrealism.

(I can't find trailer, so I have to post the full movie)


"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 06-14-2016   #4
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Re: Surrealist Film

- When discussing surrealist film, I think it is important to differentiate between those films made by individuals who were, so to speak, 'official' surrealists - that is, counted as members of the surrealist movement, from those films made by directors whose vision independently paralleled the surrealists, those that were considered surrealist 'in spite of themselves' (as the first generation surrealists interpreted Peter Ibbetson and other films made by major studios), or more contemporary or obscure works where 'surrealist' is ultimately the only proper descriptor. In the first category, one can place the films of the best-known surrealist directors such as Luis Bunuel and Jan Svankmajer, and those less well-known in the english-speaking world like Nelly Kaplan or Raul Ruiz; in the next can go the films of Georges Franju or perhaps Last Year at Marienbad (which inspired a major debate between surrealists at the time); the next referred to ostensibly 'mainstream' films possessing a surrealist ethos, which ranged from film noir to Charlie Chaplin, while the last category varies rather based on personal perspective - I for example would argue that a number of low-budget horror films from the '60's and '70s can be considered (inadvertently?) surrealist; the oeuvres of Rollin, Fulci, and Franco for example, or such films as Malatesta's Carnival of Blood or Death Bed: The Bed that Eats. For my money, the most successful authentically surrealist filmmakers are not officially surrealists; the Brothers Quay, who while have never identified themselves by this designation, share an outlook shaped by 'marvelous' or (proto-) surrealist influences (Kafka, Schulz, Walser, Ghelderode, Svankmajer, etc.), and whose work stands as the most genuine depictions of internal existence captured on celluloid.

(On the latter subject, I can recommend several volumes on the lives and works of the Quay Brothers; the first, The Quay Brothers' Universum, serves as a general introduction to their body of work, while the other, Suzanne Buchan's The Quay Brothers: Into a Metaphysical Playroom, provides much more in depth critical analysis.)

"When a man is born. . .there are nets flung at (his being) to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets." - James Joyce

Last edited by ChildofOldLeech; 06-14-2016 at 02:14 AM..
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Old 06-14-2016   #5
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Re: Surrealist Film

Ben Wheatley's A Field in England is probably more psychedelic than surreal, but it might qualify. A unique and memorable film.

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Old 06-14-2016   #6
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Re: Surrealist Film

I've only seen Bunuel The Phantom of Liberty where the most memorable scene involves toilets. Though I plan to watch The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie soon, what would you say are his seminal works?

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 06-14-2016   #7
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Re: Surrealist Film

- After the films you named, I'd go with Un Chien Andalou, L'Age d'Or, The Exterminating Angel, Simon of the Desert, and I guess That Obscure Object of Desire; the latter is probably Bunuel at his most accessible, while Age d'Or can be likely considered the most 'purely' surrealist of his films.

"When a man is born. . .there are nets flung at (his being) to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets." - James Joyce
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Old 06-14-2016   #8
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Re: Surrealist Film

Quote Originally Posted by ChildofOldLeech View Post
- When discussing surrealist film, I think it is important to differentiate between those films made by individuals who were, so to speak, 'official' surrealists - that is, counted as members of the surrealist movement, from those films made by directors whose vision independently paralleled the surrealists, those that were considered surrealist 'in spite of themselves' (as the first generation surrealists interpreted Peter Ibbetson and other films made by major studios), or more contemporary or obscure works where 'surrealist' is ultimately the only proper descriptor.
This lack of distinction, I think, has muddied the public's understanding of what "surreal" actually is in a historical context; in the colloquial it seems to have become a catch-all adjective for anything merely strange or uncanny but not necessarily surreal in the traditional sense.

This is my life. This is my damnation. This is my only regret--that I ever was born.

-- Swans, "Beautiful Child"
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Old 06-14-2016   #9
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Re: Surrealist Film



This is my life. This is my damnation. This is my only regret--that I ever was born.

-- Swans, "Beautiful Child"
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Old 06-14-2016   #10
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Re: Surrealist Film

This is one of my favorites:


Your fall should be like the fall of mountains. But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning, and shall be forever. The first and the last. The world come full circle. I am not the wheel. I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. I was the wind and the stars before this. Before planets. Before heaven and hell. And when all is done, I will be wind again, to blow this world as dust back into endless space. To me the coming and going of Man is as nothing.
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