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Dalí and Buñuel Body Horror: an Eyeball full of the surreal and horrifying short “Un Chien Andalou”

Body horror can be quite surreal. So, it should come as no surprise that two of surrealism’s titans, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, created a surreal body horror short.

The short in question is titled Un Chien Andalou and came out in 1929. Un Chien Andalou was directed by Luis Buñuel, written by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, and stars Pierre Batcheff, Simone Mareuil, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí, and Jaime Miravilles.

Un Chien Andalou (which translates to An Andalusian Dog in English) is an extremely fascinating watch (unsurprisingly), as well as horrifying.

In Un Chien Andalou, ants crawl out of a hole in a man’s hand, a mouth disappears, and an eyeball is cut with a straight razor. Add in some other extremely uncomfortable and surreal scenes — including scenes of sexual assault, dead donkeys on pianos, and an ominous striped box that seems to be at the center of everything — and you get a short film that’s surprisingly graphic and gruesome (not to mention head scratching).

In the film, none of the characters seem to be acting quite on their own inclination, and scenes seem to blend and overlay each other like layers of paint in one of Salvador Dalí’s paintings. The film never offers any tidy explanation for the violence, brutality and strange phenomena that occurs.  Further, the film ends with an image that, while not as graphic as some of the film’s other scenes, is still quite unsettling.

I had never heard of this short and only discovered it after digging around on IMDB (as I’m prone to do) for some scary strangeness that I had yet to see. When I discovered the film, I instantly Googled it and watched it through a few times.

The version I watched is 21 minutes and 26 seconds long. It’s silent, save for an accompanying score, and contains non-English sub titles. If you want to watch the English subtitled version, you can find it online (cut down to around 16 mins), or as a special feature in BFI’s release of L’Age d’Or (another provocative cinematic union of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s talents).

[SEE LINKS TO VIEW BELOW]

Un Chien Andalou is a short that lovers of David lynch, David Cronenberg, Herschell Gordon Lewis and Nick Zedd will adore.

It’s a transgressive and surreal experiment in free association made by artistic outsiders for outsider art lovers. It’s repulsive, bleak, at times charming, at times funny, and all around interesting. If you are a fan of the filmmakers listed above or if you’re a fan of extreme horror, or surrealism, then I recommend you check ‘Un Chien Andalou’ out.

I would analyze Un Chien Andalou, but it’s not necessarily made to be analyzed. If anything, it’s made to be seen as it is. I see things in Un Chien Andalou, and you, if you watch it, will as well. But like every scene and character in this short, nothing is concrete, and nothing is certain. Everything… is just surreal.

UN CHIEN ANDALOU VIEWING LINKS:

The version I watched: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=054OIVlmjUM

BFI release link: http://www.bfi.org.uk/blu-rays-dvds/lage-dor

A special thank you to Josh Blodgett (of Psychic Celluloid Signals) for lending his expertise to this article.

Josh displaying BFI’s release of L’Age D’Or (with Un Chien Andalou), as well as a conceptual painting by Dalí for Un Chien Andalou.

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