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

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