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“Un chien andalou”, which means an andalusian dog, is a short film directed by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí in 1928. This is a surreal film, created by the artists with the intent of repelling and shocking the audience. Both Buñuel and Dalí considered the films as the only way to recreate in reality the oniric situation that can be lived in dreams, and the repressed passions of the unconscious mind.
According to the two artists, “Un chien andalou” is the result of the combination of two of their dreams, in what they described as a “magical rapport”. The title has no real meaning, giving even more a sense of meaningless and non-sense to the film. “Un chien andalou” opens with the phrase “Once upon a time”, a phrase that is usually linked to fairytales. Yet, this short film is far from being a fairytale: in it, we can find some of the most disturbing scenes in the history of cinema.
The most famous scene of the film is the one we can watch in the first minutes: smoking a cigarette, a middle-aged man (Buñuel himself) sharpens a razor at his balcony door, with cheerful tango music in the background. Then, as the moon is engulfed by a cloud, he calmly slices the woman’s eye with the razor. Yet, in the next scene, we see she is unharmed.
In another scene, a man stares fascinatedly at his own hand, and when the camera focuses on it, we can see that it has a deep hole in it, and some ants are crawling out of it. Later, that same man moves his hand across his mouth and then his mouth disappears.
We can also see Dalí in another scene: the man, in order to impress the woman he loves, drags into the room two grand pianos, each with a bleeding horse head on top, and a priest tied to it. One of the priests is Dalí (the man on the right, in the picture above).
In “Un chien andalou”, time is all but conventional. As a matter of fact, some characters die and come back unscathed in the following scenes, as if nothing has happened to them. Also, around the last few minutes of the film, there is the indication “16 years before”, but the scene appears to take place in that same day of the previous scenes.
The film ends with the image of the two lovers, now both dead, who are buried in the sand up to their chests.
One of the reasons why this film is so famous is that it uses film conventions in order to sabotage reality. This, together with its ability to shock and confuse the audience, made it become a landmark in film and art history.