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Román Gubern

Surrealism and the Moving Image: Surrealism and Film URL:

The members of the Surrealist group were moviegoers, and films like Fantômas (1913), Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1921), and King Kong (1933) fascinated them. These were true "dreams over the screen", or as Jean Goudal would write in 1925 a "conscious hallucination". But the production of movies specifically Surrealist, associated with the movement created by André Breton in 1924, resulted controversial. The most strict and fussy historians assert that there were only two or three truly surrealistic films. The first one would be La coquille et le clergyman (1928) by Germaine Dulac and based on a script by Antonin Artaud, a writer very close to the Surrealists, but who was disappointed with the final result -he pretended "reproducing the mechanic of dream, without being a real dream"-. Its premiere was nosily sabotaged by some Surrealist friends attending the inauguration session. Due to this, many say that the first orthodox Surrealist film was really the creation of two spaniards, the Aragonese Luis Buñuel and the Catalonian Salvador Dalí, the short film with the capricious title Un perro andaluz (1929). Buñuel directed it in Paris using a script where the ideas of his friends were present, friends he had met in the busy Residencia de Estudiantes of Madrid. Breton himself, together with his colleagues, understood it this way and immediately admitted both of the artists among their ranks.

 Un perro andaluz poetically rambles in a very unconventional way around the topic of sexual desire and frustration -similarly to Germaine Dula's movie-, but the next film by Buñuel, already on the verge of sound film and titled La edad de oro (1930), was a virulent ideological manifesto of the Surrealist ideas with an all-out attack to the bourgeois institutions -Church, Homeland, Family-, reaching the point that after a tumultuous projection it was forbidden in December 1930, and all copies were seized by the police. This prohibition was in place in France until 1960. The scandal of the La edad de oro episode was included among the most hot political debates within the core of the group, and lead some of its members -like it was the case of Buñuel- to affiliate to the Communist Party, causing Breton great discontent. Breton attempted keeping his independence, although ultimately he would end up sympathizing with Trotskyism. 

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