Friday 27 September 2013

Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali: Un Chien Andalou

I moved to Toronto in 1975 and began my brief and intense love affair with the arts. I studied music both at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto. I hung out with other intense people striving to lift themselves up from the mundane with all that was artistic: literature, painting, sculpture, and of course, music. Yes, there were sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll, but at the heart of it all was a passion for those creators of lasting works which gave anyone the pretentious idea that they too were worthy to walk among the gods. This was my artsy fartsy period.

Treavor was a sort of art student who had sold his soul to the system by working a regular job doing drafting work. Short hair, clean cut, he fit right into the standard mold. But Treavor was one crazy assed dude. Once in a while, he'd invite me over for one of his Saturday night happenings which consisted of drinking wine and smoking dope while watching old back and white movies on TV with the sound turned off as his ear-splitting stereo system would blast out some fringe rock album. I still remember watching entire movies and having no idea what the dialogue was. What exactly did Charleton Heston gesticulating to the heavens mean when set to the music of King Crimson? You haven't really experienced Casablanca until you see Humphrey Bogat kiss Ingrid Bergman with Stairway to Heaven pummeling your senses.

Every Saturday night, the New Yorker Cinema on Yonge Street (now gone) would show underground films at midnight, the witching hour. Treavor got me started and man, this was some really weird sh*t. Of course, one's level of comprehension may have been a tad altered by various substances and in retrospect, I am sure the majority of the audience were feeling a little more than just groovy. I remember seeing stuff so bizarre, I would occasionally turn to Treavor and ask, "What the f**k is going on?" Pink Flamigos by John Waters, El Topo by Alejandro Jodorowsky, and others where I can't remember the name, left me wandering the streets with Treavor at three in morning in search of fast food while debating the aesthetic merits of cinematic imagery and Freudian plot development.

It was there, I saw this 1929 silent black and white surrealist film made by the famed movie director Luis Buñuel and the artist Salvador Dalí. "Are you trying to mess with my head?" I remember being shocked by the image, yes, "that image" in the opening scene. It gave me the willies then and I just now watched it for the first time in decades and thought to myself, "Whoa!" Talk about visceral. If you are unfamiliar with this 15 minute film, buckle up, hold onto your hats, and please keep your hands inside at all times. The pocket in front of you contains a barf bag.

Final Word
If you're like me, your reaction is going to be a perplexed, "What the hell was that?" Apparently Buñuel and Dali were inspired by their dreams but I have to ask myself who here was stoned? This certainly was appropriate fare for the New Yorker Cinema. "Far out, man." I think the aptly titled 1966 debut album of The Mothers says it all, "Freak Out!"

Where are they now? Treavor dropped out, moved to Berlin as in Germany, and became a promoter of local rock bands. Like I said, one crazy assed dude. (I haven't seen him in over four decades.) And yours truly ended up here: working stiff, respectable citizen, and blathering blogger.


Published on Jun 30, 2014 by Cursos de Cinema Fantástico

Wikipedia: Un Chien Andalou
Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) is a 1929 silent surrealist short film by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. It was Buñuel's first film and was initially released in 1929 with a limited showing at Studio des Ursulines in Paris, but became popular and ran for eight months.

The film has no plot in the conventional sense of the word. The chronology of the film is disjointed, jumping from the initial "once upon a time" to "eight years later" without the events or characters changing very much. It uses dream logic in narrative flow that can be described in terms of then-popular Freudian free association, presenting a series of tenuously related scenes.

Wikipedia: Luis Buñuel
Luis Buñuel Portolés (22 February 1900 – 29 July 1983) was a Spanish filmmaker who worked in Spain, Mexico and France.

When Luis Buñuel died at age 83, his obituary in the New York Times called him "an iconoclast, moralist, and revolutionary who was a leader of avant-garde surrealism in his youth and a dominant international movie director half a century later". His first picture—made in the silent era—was called "the most famous short film ever made" by critic Roger Ebert, and his last film—made 48 years later—won him Best Director awards from the National Board of Review and the National Society of Film Critics. Writer Octavio Paz called Buñuel's work "the marriage of the film image to the poetic image, creating a new reality...scandalous and subversive".

Wikipedia: Salvador Dalí
Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), known as Salvador Dalí, was a prominent Spanish surrealist painter born in Figueres, in the Catalonia region of Spain.

Uploaded on Dec 10, 2011 by Mikey Gleason
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Thinking about film school? Regretting not going to film school? Comedian and film school graduate Mikey Gleason tells you everything you need to know to survive in (or skip) film school.


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