Segments in this Video

Birth of Surrealism (02:03)


Evolving from Realism, Surrealism uses the power of dreams as the driving force for the creative process. Other early 1900 modernist movements include Expressionism and Cubism.

Backlash of World War I (01:54)

WWI, a war fought without modern tools and medicine, created huge sectors of artists, politicians, and bohemians from the middle class. Art manifested violent anti-social feelings.

Influences of Karl Mark and Sigmund Freud (01:45)

The communist revolution sparked by Karl Marx's writings and Sigmund Freud's theories influenced artists like the Surrealists to challenge the established order.

Dadaism: The Godfather of Surrealism (03:22)

Founded in Zurich under the leadership of Tristan Tzara, Dadaism opposed the political order responsible for WWI. It mocked convention, instead choosing an automatic approach to poetry.

Dadaism and Film (02:24)

Film became the idea art form for Dadaism since watching film is similar to a dream experience. Dadaist films include D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" and Man Ray's "The Return to Reason."

Dadaism, Film, and Other Modern Styles (02:27)

Other avant-garde directors were painters. Fernand Leger and Dudley Murphy's "Ballet Mecanique" captured Cubism on film. "Entr'acte" mixed meaningless images with scenes of persecution.

Birth of Surrealism (03:28)

Anemic Cinema, another creation of Dadaism, transitioned into Surrealism. Andre Breton broke with Dadaism by taking experimentation further. Breton defines surrealism in his "Manifesto."

Philosophies and Films of Surrealism (03:30)

Freud's theories became the starting point for Surrealism. Directors Germaine Dulac and Man Ray used Surrealist imagery. The social aspect of cinema fit the Surrealists' philosophy.

Spanish Surrealism Film (05:15)

Combining two dream sequences, Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali produced "Un Chien Andalou," a tale of confusing identity. Ironically, classical techniques created the most Surrealist images.

Bunuel and Dali's Revolutionary Film (02:45)

Bunuel and Dali's "L'Age d'Or" achieved the pinnacle of Surrealist film. The film attacks social order with eroticism and anti-clergyism. It contains a series of images without any logical connection.

Surrealism and Sound in Films (03:53)

L'Age d'Or influenced avant-garde cinema in America. Sound added to the cost of filmmaking. Bunuel abandoned Surrealist metaphor with his social documentary. WWII led to Surrealism's fall.

Surrealism's Legacy (03:23)

Censorship and persecution led many Surrealists to America, where they influenced movies such as "Spellbound," directors like David Lynch, ads, and television shows such as "The Twilight Zone."

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Surrealist Film: The Stuff of Dreams

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Surrealist cinema sought to break with the conventional linear narrative style in favor of chance events and a world of the subconscious. This penetrating program featuring Alan Williams, author of Republic of Images: A History of French Filmmaking, analyzes the origin, evolution, and legacy of a cinematic movement whose stylistic artifacts can still be found in today’s mass culture. Background on Dadaism—and the seismic historical events that gave birth to it—sets the stage for a nuanced discussion of Surrealism and its use of cinema to best express the movement’s vision during its heyday and since. Key figures of Dadaism and Surrealism are highlighted, as are important films such as La Coquille et le Clergyman, L’Étoile de Mer, and Buñuel’s iconic Un Chien Andalou and L’Âge d’Or. A Films for the Humanities & Sciences Production. (39 minutes)

Length: 40 minutes

Item#: BVL33791

ISBN: 978-1-4213-4922-0

Copyright date: ©2005

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

2006 Bronze Telly Award

Silver Plaque, Chicago International Film Festival, non-broadcast documentary

“This is a fine primer on surrealist cinema, and one that will nicely complement shorts collections. Recommended.”—Video Librarian

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.