Monday, 21 September 2009


Dada and the Roots of Surrealism

It is important firstly to define surrealism and position it a historical context. Surrealism was a cultural movement that had it's roots in a previous art movement called 'Dada'. Dada is relevant to surrealist cinema as the aims and methods of the surrealists developed from the work of Dada artists and many founders of the surrealist movement were associated with the Dada group.

Where does Surrealism Live Now?

Although many mainstream films have fantasy and dream sequences, there are a few Hollywood film-makers such as David Lynch and Spike Jonze who create films that develop the Surrealist's notions of the power of dreams and automatism.

The advertising industry is very keen to appeal to our subconscious in the selling of products. It is worth examining the above mentioned advertising campaigns of Guinness or Tango to see how the language of surrealism can be used in the name of the industrial commercialism. when tobacco advertising was restricted from associating its product with health or glamour, it swiftly turned to using surrealist imagery; particularly in the Benson & Hedges and silk cut campaigns of the 1980's

In concluding this brief outline of the roots and influences of surrealism, it is worth summarising the following:

  • Surrealism was a historical movement in art less concerned with painting than with the goal pf unleashing the unconscious and questioning moral and social conventions.
  • Over the past 75 years, there have been a number of filmmakers who claim to be working as surrealists, developing the language and scope of surrealism
  • Surrealism has strong links with popular culture and can be seen in forms such as comedy
  • Surrealism becomes more and more relevant as technology forces us to work on the unconscious level
  • Surrealism isn't really an 'ism' - it is more a way of (re)interpreting life and therefore can appear in many cultures and many historical periods.
Studying Surrealist and Fantasy cinema

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas got mixed press by critics, it's almost a 50/50 split between good and bad reviews

"This is the best acid-inspired movie since Roger Corman's The Trip - and it is a darn sight more accurate in its depiction [of] the highs and the lows, the terrible confusion alternating with lucidity, the excitement that gives way to paranoia."
Steve Biodrowski, ESplatter

"Unlike Trainspotting, Fear and Loathing doesn't shock or fascinate. It simply disgusts and repels.."
Judith Egerton, Courier Journal

"Gilliam shows that there is something appealing about drug highs. It wouldn't be honest to say otherwise. And, yes, they'll destroy you. It's honest about that too"
Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer

Being John Malcovich

Being John Malcovich was highly rated by many top critics and got very few bad reviews, the film was liked by 92% of Rotten Tomatoes users

"dense with ideas and non sequitur surprises, a viewer-friendly fun house of a film that asks only that we enjoy the ride. It is smart without seeming challenging"
Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

"A hilarious and beguiling comedy-adventure-mystery-romance hybrid. And it's not just the jaw-dropping oddity of the thing that makes it work; the film has a wonderfully involving -- and even moving -- storyline"
Rich Cline, Shadows On The Wall


Defies all expectations. It touches you in places you didn't think a film could reach. It's everything at once, thoughts, feelings, urges... But it is not total confusion. It does make sense. A lot. And it's hysterically funny, too!"
Kevin N. Laforest, Montreal Film Journal

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

General definition of surrealism

"In surrealism the world of the story isn’t cohesive… there are no consistent internal laws established to be followed. One person can occupy two different bodies, or can appear in two places at once; objects lose their literal meaning and become purely conceptual or metaphorical. Landforms float; clocks melt; bodies fold in on themselves. Surrealism is about creating a rupture in the consistency of OUR world, and it does this to expose the psychological mechanisms we use to understand our reality."

Jesse M