Salvador Dali has gone down in history as one of the most influential artists of all time but his influence extends beyond his paintings. In fact, Dali was instrumental in the evolution of cinema and had been a fan of the cinematic medium since he was a child. It was during those formative years that he realised the power of cinema and its ability to appeal to the masses.
During his childhood, Dali loved the silent films of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harry Langton among others. These influences stayed with him throughout his career and even influenced many of his paintings such as the famous ‘Apparatus and Hand’ which was actually inspired by a Buster Keaton film called The Electric House.
His most notable contributions to cinema history came through his collaborations with another visionary – Luis Buñuel. Together, they made some of the greatest cinematic explorations of surrealism but their most famous project is the one that we have chosen for this week’s edition of our Short of the Week column.
Titled Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog), this 1929 work is probably the most famous short film ever made. Eschewing the narrative conventions of a coherent plot, the film is structured through the logical framework of a dream and presents striking images in accordance with Freudian psychoanalysis.
When they set out to direct the project, their artistic intention was to create a cinematic experience that could not be rationalised. Almost a century later, Un Chien Andalou is a defiant work of art that remains timeless because it refuses to submit to the crude categorisations enforced by audiences and critics.
“We had to look for the plotline,” Buñuel once said, while explaining the film’s origin in a letter sent to a friend in 1929. “Dalí said to me, ‘I dreamed last night of ants swarming around in my hands’, and I said, ‘Good Lord, and I dreamed that I had sliced somebody or other’s eye. There’s the film, let’s go and make it.”
Watch the short film below.