When we talk about experimental film, we talk, sooner or later, about Un Chien Andalou. One can hardly overstate the formative impact that Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s short film had on all cinema, whether “alternative,” “artistic,” or otherwise askew. Loosed upon the unsuspecting filmgoing world back in 1929, it’s 16 to 21 minutes (depending on the version) of pure surreality have been viewed by many, even those of us with no patience for the avant-garde. For the most part, we’ve seen versions of badly inferior quality. Inferior to what, you might ask, and I would direct you to the superior version at the top of the post, a 21st-century restoration by the Filmoteca Española, which offers an Un Chien Andalou not quite like those you’ve seen before, whether in a film studies class, on late-night television, or in some corner or another of the internet.
Video artist and blogging cinephile Blake Williams had that impression, finding what he calls “a markedly different version of this classic than what I came to know on Youtube.” The film “plays in ‘actual time’, slowing down the hyper, 16 minutes cut to a more deliberately paced 21+ minutes” with visuals “less contrast-blown than any version I have seen, not to mention that it is no longer heavily cropped. The score, too, is different, dropping the now iconic tango back-and-forth with Wagner.” If you’ve long since grown used to all the images in Un Chien Andalou‘s once-shocking procession — the dragging piano, the ants in the palm, the rotting donkeys, the immortal eyeball slice — prepare to feel at least surprised by them once again. Though they have become much cleaner, they’ve also become no less troubling for it.
For more classic films, please see our collection, 700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..
(H/T: Israel Nava, who worked on the restoration.)
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.