Reframing Reality: The Aesthetics of the Surrealist Object in French and Czech Cinema

Reframing Reality: The Aesthetics of the Surrealist Object in French and Czech Cinema

Alison Frank

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 1841507121

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The surrealist object is an everyday item that takes on multiple associations by provoking the viewer’s imagination. It also poses a specific challenge for some filmmakers who seek to apply surrealist ideas and approaches when making feature-length narrative films. In Reframing Reality, Alison Frank looks specifically at French and Czech films, including works by Luis Buñuel, Jan Švankmajer, as well as the contemporary hit Amélie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, in order to offer a new take on surrealist film.

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most notably those by Evans, have tended to attempt an exhaustive interpretation of objects in his work by means of psychoanalysis. Williams also takes a psychoanalytic approach, but because her work is informed by Lacan, the ultimate resistance of the object to interpretation becomes a psychoanalytic principle in itself, reflecting the fact that it is impossible for the subject to attain the fulfilment of his or her desires.10 Buñuel was drawn to Freudian psychoanalysis because it invited one to

perverse role play rather than servility. Finally, when the scene ends with Pierre’s question (‘À quoi penses-tu?’/‘What are you thinking about?’) and Séverine describes only the anodyne beginning of the dream, the fact that Pierre is familiar with the dream as being of ‘le landau’/‘the coach’ points to the provocative double-meaning of objects within the preceding scene: his indulgent reaction implies that he is only aware of the romantic meaning of the coach, but the audience is familiar with

once again a garden still allows for the possibility of interpreting the sack as having only a literal role. The next two times that the sack appears, it is directly connected with Mathieu. In the first instance, he and Conchita are walking along the Allée des Cygnes. When they begin (as in the earlier scene) to walk away from the camera together, Mathieu (now seemingly resigned to never getting what he wants from Conchita) picks up a burlap sack that he carries over his shoulder (figure 4.6).

establishment of generic clichés, the audience has been conditioned to accept some unbelievable events while rejecting others. In apparently seeking to redress the balance, the director asks the audience to re-examine the very criteria by which events are judged as believable or not. Dialogue offers Buñuel another means of mocking the artificiality of most films. The audience’s own credulity is highlighted when they are lulled by the genre into accepting stilted conversations, even those

style and focus not only reflect past modes of poetic realism, but also exemplify much more recent trends in film and culture, namely cinéma du look and postmodernism.34 Cinéma du look Those features of Amélie that I have so far connected with Clair and the poetic realist tendency find their deeper motivation and context in cinéma du look and the larger, overarching trend of postmodernism. In the intervening years that separated Jeunet’s career from poetic realism, the French New Wave had

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