Surrealism and Film

Robin Walz

in Cinema and Media Studies

ISBN: 9780199791286
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:
Surrealism and Film

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Affinities between surrealism and film have been noted since the beginning of the surrealist movement in the 1920s. The nascent motion picture industry at the dawn of the 20th century was by definition experimental, a new media form that combined and extended features of serial publications, theater, photography, and collage. The objective and technical processes of filmmaking shared affinities with the surrealist project of disassembling reality into a multiplicity of images, and then reassembling those images to achieve a marvelous and uncanny “dream world” that redoubled reality and captured the consciousness of mass audiences. The early surrealists wrote enthusiastically about the cinema of their time, particularly the comedies of Mack Sennett, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin, and the criminal exploits of the silent film serials Les Mystères de New York, Fantômas, and Les Vampires. Moving from a surrealist reception of film to the production of surrealist cinema, an article on Un Chien andalou by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí appeared in the countersurrealist journal Documents (June 1929) and the film scenario was published in the final issue of La Révolution Surréaliste (15 December 1929). Beginning in the 1930s, avant-garde, commercial, and experimental filmmakers continued to produce films that, in some aspect or another, came to be critically recognized as surrealist. Yet, unlike poetry, fiction, painting, photography, and collage, film never became a dominant medium of surrealist art. Consequently, scholarship on surrealism and film is extremely varied, having developed in stages and having moved in multiple directions. The earliest approach was to examine film, both popular movies and avant-garde productions, through writings of mainly French surrealists on the cinema. A second wave of scholarship from film studies focused upon a canonical body of surrealist films, directors, and scenarios, most notably on the work of Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. In recent decades, contemporary scholars internationally have examined the intersection of surrealism and cinema with the goal to develop theoretical concepts and nomenclature applicable to the fields of literary theory, critical theory, and cultural studies. This bibliography is designed to assist researchers informed by any of these approaches while remaining inclusive of all of them.

Article.  9645 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television

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