Un Chien Andalou
It’s only 17 minutes long, but Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s first cinematic collaboration, 1929’s “Un Chien Andalou,” is the prime force responsible for all those misunderstandings of “avant-garde” or “surreal” as simply being weird. A life and relationships fairy tale told in bold abstraction, the great feat of “Un Chien Andalou” is not just its audaciously original imagery—ants crawling out of a hand, dead donkeys in pianos, a straight razor approaching a woman’s eye—but how sublimely they were organized to disturb. And they still sting more than 70 years down the line: The shock of the razor’s blade sinking into the eyeball is not the violence of the act but that for once, rather than mere coy implication, cinema delivers. Also on this bill is René Clair’s 1924 “Entr’acte,” the Warholian screen test of its era. Such future 1920s Parisian superstars as Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Darius Milhaud, and Erik Satie float through this dreamlike surrealist frolic really only notable for the people involved. And Man Ray’s 1923 short “Le Retour à la raison” is an early experiment of imagistic avant-garde that would find richer expansion in the formalism of Hollis Frampton, and is also verily of its era—complete with a brief glimpse of earthy bohemian artist model goddess Kiki of Montparnasse.