Waters, Alexander (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
La Coquille et le Clergyman (1929), Un chien andalou (1929) and L’Age d’or (1930) are three films that have gained worldwide recognition as being the most salient examples of Surrealist expression in film. While a number of other examples arguably do exist, the limited nature of the Surrealist film programme is well documented. This thesis does not seek to conduct a survey of the Surrealist claims of these films, but to challenge the notion that such a discernable body or genre of films might even exist. By comparing the films’ status with regard to André Breton’s original conception of ‘Surrealism’, Chapter One introduces the debate surrounding authorship and intention which is so central to any discussion of Surrealism in film. Chapter Two focuses on the seminal theories of Antonin Artaud, and the way in which these theories might be applied to the cinema. Artaud’s individual ambition for a film project presents a different conception of cinema as at once seen and unseen. By way of Benjamin Fondane’s plans for a cinema that existed solely on paper, Chapter Three continues this re-examination of the Surrealist project by proposing that the limited number of recognisably ‘Surrealist’ films does not indicate a failure.
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