Un Chien Andalou

The essay ‘Once Upon a Time…’, on the opening sequence of Buñuel and Dalí’s 1928 film Un Chien andalou, was one of my first published texts, written before I had decided whether I was more interested in surrealist film or still photography. My engagement with the former would result in this essay and, a few years later, my own film Nat Pinkerton.

I have resisted the temptation to do any rewriting and the text here is scanned from its original publication in Sight and Sound in the winter of 1977-8. On re-reading it nearly 40 years later, I have actually found myself still mostly in agreement with my younger self, even if I’d like here and there to smooth out his sentence structure.

I do seem to have thought that the cloud cutting through the moon was a caught ‘documentary’ shot rather than (as seems evident now) a piece of slightly wonky camera trickery. And I am now pretty sure that the jump from open necked shirt to striped tie is just a piece of sloppy continuity, though that only heightens my enjoyment of its connotations.

The montage of 15 stills on this page was also part of the original publication and I think it is very helpful in clarifying just how organized the sequence is.

V Un Chien Andalou stills