Sample Essay

Imagine a movie that has been directed with a view to disturb, and not entertain its audience, hopefully inciting them to commit an act of violence.  This was the stated goal of director Luis Buñuel when he directed “Un Chien Andalou,” (An Andalusian Dog) in 1929.  The movie was inspired by the Faustian concept of suppressed human emotions, and was heavily influenced by Buñuel’s leaning towards the surrealist movement.  Breaking away from the concept of a narrative being unfolded, it instead sought to engage the audience into deciphering for themselves what the narrative was, if there was any at all.

The movie is regarded as one of the most well-known and widely-acclaimed surrealist movies of its time.  It is a short 16-minute silent black & white film, complemented by Richard Wagner’s “Liebestod” (love-death) in the background with a recurring theme of violence.  At first, the film seems like a collection of disjointed dream-like sequences with only its actor-characters – Simone Mareuil and Pierre Batcheff – bringing some sort of consistency to the scenes.  It is only once one has seen the entire movie that a narrative – sketchy at best – can be identified.  The beauty of the film, however, lies in its ability to shock – an ability that it retains till today. (Richardson 45)

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