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Gaspar Noe is a director who has had his fair share of controversy surrounding the shock factor that he exhibits in provocative films such as IrreversibleEnter the Void and Love. There is evidently respect for the old greats of filmmaking in Noe’s work, particularly those with a surreal edge to them.
Noe admits to being obsessed with 2001: A Space Odyssey; however, he notes that he does not hold any jealousy of its director, Stanley Kubrick, seeing as “it was so much work” to make the film. He explained, “I’m sure he was working 20 hours a day for five years with the very best people he could find on this planet to create a cathedral of cinema. The movie is a cathedral itself. And also, when you read about how the reception to the movie was and how much he suffered, everybody was picking on the movie besides the young audience, and you don’t envy Kubrick. You envy his talent.”
In fact, the director that Noe really envies is the Spanish-Mexican filmmaker Luis Buñuel, who several directors and film critics consider to be one of the most influential artists of his kind. In 1929, Buñuel directed a 16-minute short film entitled Un Chien Andalou, assisted by none other than the surrealist artist Salvador Dali.
Considering the personnel involved in the project, it is unsurprising to learn that it is surrealist in nature and has no actual plot as such. Discussing the film, Noe said, “I wish I was in his head when he had shown the movie he co-directed with Salvador Dali because it’s just a short movie, a 17-minute movie, but that still is his most famous movie after a huge career of fabulous movies. And it’s the first movie that I know that really used the language of dreams and nightmares.”
The film’s first screening was for the affluent and fashionable elite of Paris, and the audience included Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Christian Berard, as well as Andre Breton’s Surrealist group. Noe wishes he were in the crowd that night. He said, “The opening scene of the movie, of the short film, with Buñuel cutting the eye of a woman — even the close-up, they replaced the eye of the woman by the eye of a cow — is so shocking that I wish I could have been in the audience if I could not be behind Bunuel. If I could see the reaction, I’m sure there are never people turning more crazy in the history of cinema than the first audience that that movie had.”
There had, however, been an overwhelmingly positive reception of the film, which surprised Buñuel. He had thought that the absurd nature of the film would ensue in violence amongst the audience, and reportedly, he had put stones in his pockets to defend himself “in case of disaster”. However, Dali was less impressed by the audience’s reaction, which made the evening “less exciting.”
Concluding his thoughts on the film, Noe wondered, “Why didn’t anybody film the opening day or that first premiere of Un Chien Andalou? I’m sure that it was a general state of shock. The movie is so beautiful and so political that it’s a real piece of art. There are not many directors you can consider artists. Of course, Kubrick’s like an architect, the most famous architect in the history of cinema, but as a poet or painter, Buñuel is an artist.”
Check out the full film below, but be warned, it is odd, to say the least.
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