Un Chien Andalou Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí

The opening scene is iconic: a man (director Luis Buñuel) bisects a woman's eye with a straight razor. The following 17 minutes pile on images of androgyny, violence, religion, sexual repression and ants. Just what is going on in Un Chien Andalou? Critics, academics and film nuts have been theorising and interpreting ever since the film debuted in Paris in 1929, and while any answers are elusive, the film remains a surprisingly fertile and fresh piece — 86 years later, we still feel the shock of the new. This DVD includes excellent interviews with Buñuel's son Juan-Luis, who provides insight into Buñuel and Dalí's process, and warns against symbolic interpretations of the work. Instead he stresses the dream logic and free association of the film, and it is well worth going back and watching again without the anxiety of "but what does it mean?" Sometimes a man dragging a grand piano, some dead livestock and two surprised-looking priests is just a man pulling stuff. Un Chien Andalou is important for so many reasons: as the last collaboration between Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel before they went on to become the darlings of the art world and Mexican cinema, respectively; as the first Surrealist film; and as a distillation of the explosive creativity of Paris in the 1920s. Audio commentary by Surrealism expert Stephen Barber helps to situate the film in this context, but it assumes some prior knowledge of French experimental film and suffers from Barber's horribly dry delivery. The film itself is probably the better introduction to Surrealism; just watch it, take it in and see where it takes you. (Translux/Morningstar)