Un Chien Andalou

What can you say about a movie that’s only 16 minutes long?

“Un Chien Andalou” means “An Andalusian Dog”. It’s silent. It’s weird. It has no plot. It’s the original gross-out film.

Directed by Luis Bunuel and conceived by him and Salvador Dali, “Un Chien Andalou” (1929) isn’t so much a film as a series of images that wash over you, more dream than reality. Which is probably for the best, because the images are a little disturbing; about a minute into the picture, a man slashes a woman’s eyeball with a razor. In close up. Don’t worry, it looks totally fake; the ear scene in “Reservoir Dogs” was more convincing.

That’s about as bad as it gets, but really, what’s the point here? I don’t mind a little shock-and-awe in my films, but that shouldn’t be the point of a film (one reason why I refuse to see torture-porn films). For a film geek like me, I think “Un Chien Andalou” is worthwhile checking out, but only as historical viewing. I really can’t imagine anyone loving this film, and I can only bring myself to appreciate it. Barely.

And that about sums it up.

“Un Chien Andalou”

Directed by Luis Bunuel

Scenario by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali

Simone Mareuil (Young girl)

 Pierre Batcheff (Man)

“The Passion of Joan of Arc” DVD

I’m not really going to review “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928); it’s an ok film I guess, but I thought it was pretty boring, mostly because of the Maria Falconetti’s (Joan) monotone performance. If you’re an obsessive Joan of Arc fan, then by all means seek it out, although I suspect there are better avenues for that (mainly, just reading the trial transcripts) than sitting through this movie.

But, I do need to give a shout-out to the Criterion Collection’s DVD of “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” because they did a great service by the film.

See, it’s a silent film, and I do mean totally SILENT. I’ve seen a fair amount of silent films over the years, and while there is no dialogue, the score serves to keep things moving and focus the audience’s attention. But “The Passion of Joan of Arc” comes to us with no score; apparently, the director, Carl Theodor Dreyer, never settled on a score and with the film being lost for years, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if he had.

In their infinite wisdom, the Criterion crew added an optional score to the DVD called “Voices of Light.” Now, being the sometime film purist as I am, I initially chose to watch the silent version so I could fully experience the director’s vision. I held out for a good 90 seconds before I switched over.

“Voices of Light” was inspired by the film, and for the most part matches the action. It’s a choir singing and the vocals are occasionally distracting from the action on screen, but, if you have to watch the film,  it’s worth it. “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is only 82 minutes long, and I don’t think I could have watched the whole thing without some sound.

Thanks a bunch Criterion crew! Keep ‘em coming!

“The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928)

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

Written by Carl Theodor Dreyer and Joseph Delteil

Maria Falconetti’s (Joan)