There was a surge of surrealist filmmaking in the 1920s and 1930s. It makes use of symbolic, dreamy imagery and nontraditional narrative devices. The Surrealist art movement, which attempted to subvert accepted standards and investigate the subconscious, was a major inspiration for this kind of filmmaking. This article will highlight surrealist cinema’s history and its common themes.
At a Glance
- Early Surrealist films
- Surrealist filmmakers
- Modern Surrealism in films
- Themes & Tropes of Surrealist Cinema
- Best Surrealist films
Early Surrealist films
French director and film theorist Luis Buñuel produced some of the earliest instances of Surrealist filmmaking. One of the earliest Surrealist films was Un Chien Andalou, which Buñuel and the artist Salvador Dalí worked on together in 1929. The film’s purpose is to have the audience react subconsciously to a sequence of surreal and disturbing scenes, such as a woman’s eye being slashed open with a razor.
L’Age d’Or directed by Luis Buñuel, is another early Surrealist film. In this satirical look at modern life, animation, live-action, and surreal visuals all coexist. Before its 1960 U.S. debut, this picture had already been banned in Spain and France.
Directors such as Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, and Maya Deren are also considered pioneers of the Surrealist cinema movement with Buñuel. Filmmaker Jean Cocteau’s The Blood of a Poet offers a stunning look at the creative process. Some regard Man Ray’s short film Emak-Bakia to be the first abstract film. In her seminal 1943 film Meshes of the Afternoon, Maya Deren used surreal imagery and symbolism to delve into the depths of the psyche.
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