The cinema seems to have been invented to express the power of the subconscious whose roots penetrate so deeply into poetry… The film seems to be the involuntary imitation of the dream. Luis Buñuel
In conjunction with 'Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams', the Gallery's Australian Cinémathèque presents a major survey of the surrealist sensibility in cinema. The Savage Eye: Surrealism and Cinema considers films made under the rubric of the movement alongside popular cinema highlighting the enduring fascination with surrealist tendencies, narratives and tropes. The program also charts how developments in filmmaking have been used to represent the interior world of dreams and the subconscious via cinematic manipulation and montage.
The Savage Eye charts Dada and Surrealism's interest in, engagement with, and response to cinema during the 1920s and 1930s, and features works by artists, filmmakers and writers connected with surrealist and dada groups — and those working on the margins — such as Luis Buñuel, René Clair, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Germaine Dulac, Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy, Jacques Prévert, Man Ray, Hans Richter and others.
The Savage Eye includes a focus on the late films of Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, undoubtedly the most well-known filmmaker to emerge out of Surrealism, and who continued to underline the surrealist provenance of his films throughout his longstanding career into the 1970s.
The surrealist's love of cinema is highlighted in French filmmaker Louis Feuillade's celebrated serial films of the silent era, based on pulp detective fiction. Special attention will also be given to a surrealist use of documentary, with the inclusion of films by Joris Ivens, Eli Lotar, Jean Painlevé, Pierre Prévert, Henri Storck, Jean Rouch, Jean Vigo and Georges Franju and others. Surrealism's influence in the United States following World War One will be mapped through the work of avantgarde artists and filmmakers working in the United States, including Kenneth Anger, Joseph Cornell, Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid, Sidney Peterson, Hans Richter, while the movement in Belgium and Denmark will be seen in the films of Marcel Mariën and Wilhelm Freddie with Jørgen Roos.
The pervasive presence of Surrealism outside western Europe is featured in programs of films by Polish filmmakers Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, Wojciech Has and Polish surrealist group member and filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk; Czechoslovak surrealist group member and animator–filmmaker Jan Švankmajer; as well as in the work of Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, Spanish playwright–filmmaker Fernando Arrabal and French illustrator–writer Roland Topor, who formed the collective 'Mouvement panique' after meeting in the 1960s at a gathering of the Paris Surrealist Group.
The relationships between Surrealism and popular cinema will also be explored through the works of Jean Cocteau, David Cronenberg, Peter Greenaway, David Lynch, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, Raúl Ruiz and others.
This program would not have been possible without the assistance of our Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film partners. Special thanks to the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia; l'Institut Français and the Embassy of France in Australia who have generously provided materials for this program. Presented by The Courier Mail. Program curated by José Da Silva, Australian Cinematheque.
List of Works
Pulp Surrealism: Louis Feuillade and the Film Serial
Fantômas 1913–14 Fantômas I: À l'ombre de la guillotine (Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine) 1913 Fantômas II: Juve contre Fantômas (Juve vs. Fantômas) 1913 Fantômas III: Le Mort Qui Tue (The Murderous Corpse) 1913 Fantômas IV: Fantômas contre Fantômas (Fantômas vs. Fantômas) 1914 Fantômas V: Le Faux Magistrat (The False Magistrate) 1914
Les Vampires (The Vampires) 1915–16 Episode 1-3: La tête coupée (The Severed Head) + La bague qui tue (The Killer Ring) + Le cryptogramme rouge (The Red Cypher) Episode 4-6: Le spectre (The Ghost) + L'évassion du mort (The Escaping Dead Man) + Les yeux qui fascinent (The Hypnotic Gaze) Episode 7-8: Satanas (Satan) + Le maître de la foudre (The Thunder Lord) Episode 9-10: L'homme des poisons (The Poisoner) + Les noces sanglantes (Bloody Wedding)
From Dada to Surrealism 'Dadaist 'cinema' was anti-film, a negation of film practice, that sought in cinema a kind of utopian space in which the processes of film production would be annulled. This was in conformity with the Dadaist opposition to all values: film, as a form inseparable from the modern progress they denounced, was of value only to the extent that it could contribute to this generalised demoralisation.' MR
In this collection of experimental short film we trace the rhythms of the dada film poems and see how the Dada artists rejected cinema as a medium of impressionism, seeking to create a universal pictorial language using abstract geometric shapes in rhythmic movement, aspects of chance.
From Dada to Surrealism Symphonie diagonale (Diagonal Symphony) 1921 | Director: Viking Eggeling Rhythmus 21 1921–24 | Director: Hans Richter Rhythmus 23 1923–25 | Director: Hans Richter Le Retour à la raison (Return to Reason) 1923 | Director: Man Ray La Ballet mécanique 1923–24 | Director: Fernand Léger Entr'acte 1924 | Director: René Clair Anémic cinéma 1925 | Director: Marcel Duchamp Vormittagsspuk (Ghosts before Breakfast) 1927-28 | Director: Hans Richter
The Films of Man Ray Le Retour à la raison (Return to Reason) 1923 Emak Bakia (Cinépoème) (Fichez moi la paix aka Leave Me Alone) 1926 L'Etoile de mer (The Star of the Sea aka The Starfish) 1928 Les mystères du château de Dé (The Mysteries of the Chateau of Dice) 1929
Surrealist Shorts Filmstudie (Etude filmique) c.1926 | Director: Hans Richter Pour vos beaux yeux (For Your Beautiful Eyes) 1929-30 | Director: Henri Storck Spiste Horisonter (Eaten Horizon) 1950 | Director: Wilhelm Freddie, Jørgen Roos L'Imitation du cinéma (The Imitation of Cinema) 1960 | Director: Marcel Mariën
The Surrealist Scenario 'What we ask of the cinema is the impossible, it is the unexpected, the dream, the surprise, the lyricism that erases the baseness in souls and hurls them enthusiastically onto the barricades and into adventure; what we ask of the cinema is what love and life have refused us — it is mystery, it is the miracle.' Robert Desnos
La Coquille et le clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman) 1927 | Director: Germaine Dulac Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog) 1929 | Director: Luis Buñuel L'âge d'or; Abajo la constitucion (The Golden Age) 1930 | Director: Luis Buñuel Le sang d'un poète (The Blood of a Poet) 1930 | Director: Jean Cocteau L'Affaire est dans le sac (It's in the Bag) 1932 | Director: Pierre Prevert Babaouo 2000 | Director: Manuel Cusso-Ferrer
Jacques Prévert: The Poet Dreams in Movies 'The epic poet shall express himself by means of the cinema.' Guillaume Apollinaire 'Jacques Prévert is the poet of the end of the world. But this end is the promise of a new world. In the films he wrote, fate may appear malevolent but it is, more often, facilitatory, allowing a glimpse of a desired life that may be out of reach in more than a momentary way but still gives texture to this life.' MR
French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert is considered by many as unequalled in the history of French screenwriting. He participated in the Surrealist Group between 1925 and 1929 and was also celebrated for his collages and his work as a dramatist. Prévert's longstanding