Surrealism In Film Essay

2922 words - 12 pages

Surrealism is a movement that built off of the burgeoning look into art, psychology, and the workings of the mind. Popularly associated with the works of Salvador Dali, Surrealist art takes imagery and ideology and creates correlation where there is none, creating new forms of art. In this essay I will look to explore the inception of the surrealist movement, including the Surrealist Manifesto, to stress the importance of these artists and their work in the 20th century and beyond. I also will look to films from our European Cinema course to express how films incorporate the influence of surrealism both intentionally and unintentionally.
To begin, we will look at the ideals and influences that led to the formation of surrealist ideals, starting with something that sparked multiple artistic movements, the First World War. Many French artists were displaced during the war, and embraced ideals that spoke to their dissatisfaction with the results of rationalism, in their eyes a cause of the war itself (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-surrealism.htm). These artists called themselves “Dadaists” and believed in the concept of “Anti-art”, a rejection of previous values tied to rational or bourgeoisie ideals. Upon their return to Paris after the war these artists brought the idea of anti-art and began expressing their ideas via performances, written work, and various other forms that looked to the absurd or ridiculous to ridicule the formal presentation of art and realism. These protests however, were driven more by social and aesthetic commentary than the Surrealists, who focused more on the effects of art of the mind, both in creation and viewing. The important spark occurred in 1924, when Andre Breton published the “Surrealist Manifesto”, outlining ideas that shaped the juxtaposition of psychoanalytic concepts promoted by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung with the socioeconomic and political themes of Karl Marx. Coupled with the use of unusual concepts of artistic expression, as well as experiments in form and content, surrealism sought to exploit the unrealized and unexplored spaces of art in often shocking and controversial ways.
Often inspired by the repression of unconscious observations, surrealist art and writing often contains no discernable organization or structure, and is open to the imagination and the “world of the private mind” (metmuseum), an antithesis of traditional art based on rationality, reason, and societal norms. These concepts were what the surrealists sought to upend in their manifesto, and thus much of their work, such as Rene Magritte’s "La Trahison des Images" or Marcel Duchamp’s “Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)” sought to “overturn the world view of scientific positivism, exposing the dogmatic conceptions of vision and language, the supposed guarantors of truth and being, as arbitrary, deceptive tools of modernity’s oppressive “rational” ideology” (sensesofcinema). Additionally, surrealism intended...

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