Due to popular demand, I will be running my 4-week course on Surrealism in cinema again in November at Close-Up. I have been running this course once or twice a year in London since 2017.
Surrealism is one of the art movements that has had the strongest influence on cinema and its impact has lasted to the present day. Emerging at the beginning of the 20th century when cinema was still in its infancy, its focus on dreams and the unconscious made it particularly apt to help shape the new art of moving images. Rejecting a rational approach to the world, the Surrealists led by André Breton sought to free mankind from artistic as well as moral and social conventions, liberating imagination to reveal the deeper connections between dream and reality. Their revolutionary artistic techniques had a political dimension and aimed at shaking up the established order in the widest sense. Central to this art of revolt were themes of violence and desire, their subversive intensity deployed to shock audiences out of their complacent worldviews. This course will explore the influence of Surrealism on cinema from the beginnings of the movement through to 1960s psychedelia and experimentation, up until its more recent incarnation in the films of Lucile Hadžihalilović and David Lynch.
Please note: This course regularly sells out so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.
Week 1 – The beginnings of Surrealist cinema
Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s Un chien andalou (1929) and L’âge d’or (1930), Germaine Dulac and Antonin Artaud’s The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928), Jean Cocteau’s The Blood of a Poet (1931)
Week 2 – Post-war Surrealism: horror, eroticism and psychedelia
Georges Franju, Jean Rollin, Walerian Borowczyk, Alejandro Jodorowsky
Week 3 – Surrealism and revolution in Eastern Europe 1960s-70s
Jaromil Jireš’s Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970), Věra Chytilová’s Daisies (1966), Jan Němec’s The Party and the Guests (1966), Dušan Makavejev’s W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971), Wojciech Has’s Hourglass Sanatorium (1973)
Week 4 – Surrealism in contemporary cinema
Jan Švankmajer, Brothers Quay, Terry Gilliam, Guy Maddin, Yorgos Lanthimos, Lucile Hadžihalilović, David Lynch
(This content is indicative and not a detailed plan of each class)