The untamed eye and the dark side of surrealism: Hitchcock, Lynch and Cronenberg
Source TitleThe Unsilvered Screen: surrealism on film
University of Melbourne Author/sCreed, Barbara
AffiliationCulture and Communication
CitationsCREED, B. (2007). The untamed eye and the dark side of surrealism: Hitchcock, Lynch and Cronenberg. Harper, G (Ed.). Stone, R (Ed.). The Unsilvered Screen: surrealism on film, (1), pp.115-133. Wallflower Press.
Access StatusOpen Access
Deposited with permission of Wallflower Press
A sliced eyeball, scorpions fighting to the death, ants crawling from a hole in a hand, delirious lovers – these images, designed to delight and shock, capture the essence of the Parisian Surrealist movement of the 1920s and 1930s. The continuing influence of early or classic Surrealist filmmaking on popular, commercial filmmakers of the latter part of the twentieth century is evidenced by a different but equally disturbing set of Surrealist signature images: a severed ear lying on a country lane, a woman falling twice to her death from a bell tower, an exploding head and a man disappearing intothe parted lips of a television screen. There is no doubt that early Surrealists were in love with the image and its power to move the viewer. The Surrealists, however, did not extol the power of the image per se; rather they were drawn to the art of montage, that is, the way images could be edited together to create shocking and fantastic associations in order to affect the viewer emotionally. Contemporary filmmakers such as American director David Lynch and Canadian David Cronenberg are similarly fascinated by the power of Surrealism and shock montage to open up the imagination. The British director Alfred Hitchcock, who made a series of Surrealist masterpieces inHollywood in the 1950s and 1960s, was the first popular director to work in the Surrealist mode. The horror film, of course, has for decades drawn, tongue-in-cheek, on the dark jittery side of Surrealism.
KeywordsFilm; Television and Digital Media
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