Un Chien Andalou(Facets Home Entertainment, 12.28.2004)
Punk came to the movies fifty or so years before it came to rock and roll. To prove it, there are two early provocations by the late (and sadly missed) Luis Bunuel that show the start of a man (and a movement) getting ready to turn the world of art and cinema on its collective ear. A staple of pretty much every freshman film student's cinematic diet, Un Chien Andalou is the movie that paved the road that filmmakers like Kenneth Anger, Federico Fellini, and David Lynch would drive on throughout their careers. It is well known to fans of both Bunuel and his chief collaborator on the film, Salvador Dali, and contains the famous montage in which an eye is slashed by a razor blade as well as the shot of ants crawling out of a hole in a man's hand that has been lifted by a million bands in a million music videos.
It arrives on a DVD from Facets that is bound to infuriate some people for two reasons: 1) the film remains completely indecipherable to this day and 2) the picture quality leaves something to be desired. But the hell with all that. Bunuel and Dali meant their film to mean something different -- and hopefully infuriating, based on Bunuel's description of the film as "a call to murder" -- to every viewer. And as far as picture quality goes, there probably isn't a "perfect" print of this film to be found anywhere on the planet. This is, after all, a 75-year old experimental film.
The extras include a commentary track (by Steven Barber who does an okay job of trying to explain the inexplicable) and a pair of video interviews with Bunuel's son, Juan Luis, which cover the making of the film, Bunuel's early life in Calanda, Spain, and his relationship with Salvador Dali. An excerpt from a speech given by Bunuel on what he perceived to be the mission of film and filmmaking is included in a printed insert and probably contributes more to the "understanding" of the film than any of the other extras. -- Christopher Hyatt