Which is an Example of a Surrealist Film?

Do you love to watch different genres films? Then definitely you are a film lover. Now, think about which an example of a surrealistic film is that you have watched recently.

Probably you have watched a nice surrealistic film but you don’t know that film is called surrealist film. In this article, I am going to apprise you what surrealism is in film, surrealist film examples and one of my favorite surrealist film name and its brief analysis.

Hopefully, you will enjoy the reading. Let’s get started with an acquaintance of surrealist film.

How to Define a Surrealist Film?

Those films which depict shocking imagery are called surrealist films. For a broader definition apart from just shocking imagery a surrealist film refers to modernist approach to film theory, criticism and production. Surrealism is about capturing the characteristic imagery, feelings, and anti-literal qualities of dreams. These films represent one’s uncensored and unhampered stream of conscious and unconscious thoughts. The imagery need not be shocking, but it’s often powerful in a way that’s hard to pin down.

Brief History

Surrealism was the first literary and artistic movement that occurred in Paris in 1920. The movement used shocking, irrational or absurd imagery and Freudian dream symbolism to challenge the traditional function of art to represent reality. Surrealism mostly known for its artistic endeavors, but the movement is first a philosophical one that hoped to free humans from the shackles of false rational associations.

Its primary artistic mechanism of doing so was to bridge the relationship of dreams, the unconscious, and the waking experience of reality through the juxtaposition of unlike imagery and the challenging of basic assumptions of observational truth. The movement became seriously associated with cinema although film critics and historians neglected this movement.

Related to Dada cinema, Surrealist cinema characterized by juxtapositions, the rejection of dramatic psychology, and a frequent use of shocking imagery. Philippe Soupault and André Breton’s 1920 book collaboration Les Champs Magnétiques is often considered to be the first Surrealist work. But, it was only once Breton had completed his Surrealist Manifesto in 1924 that Surrealism drafted itself an official birth certificate.

Some Common Traits of Surrealist Films

i) Surrealist films are full of ‘dream-like imagery’ scenes that are often illogical.

ii) This type of films has such visuals that create emotional and psychological reactions among viewers.

iii) This films may lack of easy legible narration in the plot and full of shocking images.

iv) Surrealist films often assault traditional institutions in society such as, religion, family or marriage.

v) Surrealist films could show actual objects in motion, as they move in dreams. Sometimes these dreamy objects created by abstract linguistic metaphor or montage.

Pure Surrealist Film Examples

Metropolis (1927), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Blood of a Poet( 1930), The Wizard of OZ (1939), Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947), Orpheus (1950), The Seventh Seal (1957), Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Carnival of Souls (1962), The Trial (1962) etc. are the ideal examples of early surrealist films.

Own Analysis

An example of a film with strong surreal elements would be ‘Last Year at Marienbad’. I have watched this film recently. Exterior shots include striking images of people casting long shadows as they stroll the grounds, but the trees they are walking next to cast no shadows at all. A character might clearly show in a shot, the camera pans away and then that character reenters the frame impossibly from the opposite side. These visual effects are not only simply shocking but also they challenge our basic assumptions of observational truth.

The film is famous for its mysterious narrative structure, where time and space are fluid. There is no doubt about what is happening to the characters, what they remember, and what they are imagining. The nature of its dreamy visualization has impressed and surprised the audience. Some film critics praised the work as a surrealist modern artistic film though others have considered it incomprehensible.

Last Words

For me, a surrealist film is successful when it taps into the viewer’s subconscious. Likely why it’s such an unaccepted genre to people is because it works with associating visuals with emotions that may not work for many. A surrealistic film provides such visuals that make the composition look wrong or incomplete like our dreams. Have you ever had a dream in which something frightens you greatly that wouldn’t in real life? If you watch such shocking visuals in a film that is absolutely a surrealist film.