One of the richest veins in indie cinema is, of course, surrealism. Most surrealist films don't reach a wide audience, but I can remember watching Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain for the first time when I was 17 or so and being knocked out, though I couldn't quite figure out why (if you haven't seen it, you really should.) The Seventh Art has a 1987 BBC documentary on surrealist film, and it's hosted by cinema's great modern surrealist/mainstream director, David Lynch. Click below to watch the documentary and have your mind blown (as well as educated).
Having a storied history, from the inception of the cinema to today, surrealist films can be loosely defined as dreamlike films that follow their own, internal logic, works assembled to create an effect on the viewer just as rich as any narrative film, but through collision of image and sound rather than traditional narrative.
Two of the most influential surrealist films (and two of my favorites) are the 1929 collaboration between Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, Un Chien Andalou (the excellent Pixies' song Debaser was inspired by the film.) If you haven't seen the sliced eyeball yet, get ready:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DZ1x-xBtUM
And Chris Marker's La Jetée, a surrealist sci-fi-influenced short that was the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezkAeQuUqCg
This documentary, produced in 1987 for the BBC, is a look into the history of the genre, presented by David Lynch in his always unique way (it's worth watching for him alone.) It's a must see for fans of the surreal, as well as anyone wishing to broaden their knowledge of film (or just fans of David Lynch's inimitable personal style):
And Part Two:
What do you think? Are you a fan of the surreal, whether as a genre unto itself or when incorporated into more narrative work? What influence do you think surrealism has had on film in general, regardless of genre?
NOTE: We originally referred to the doc as being from 1975, when clearly this is not the case, one glaring reason being that in 1975 David Lynch was not yet the David Lynch we know today. We apologize for the error.
[via The Seventh Art]