After such a strong week two, week three began with a bit of a disadvantage. Beginning in Japan, and ending in Poland, week three crisscrossed the globe, telling an incredibly diverse group of stories along the way. A surrealist short (from the incomparable Luis Buñuel), a rockumentary, an Oscar nominee, and a chilling horror diversified my week three viewing experience, rendering it the most jarring day-to-day film campaign of my “March.” From the hammy melodrama of Misaki Kobayashi’s I Will Buy You to the psychological complexities of Jane Campion’s Sweetie, week three became an exercise in “resetting” my expectations. One of my goals for this project was to go into as many films as blindly as possible. I purposefully neglected to research any films on my list (save for the few added to alleviate the pressure of my expanding queue), challenging myself to pick up cues as to the narrative structure/cinematic style without any preconceptions or information. With the narrative subversion of I Will Buy You, and the disjointed timeline of Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain, week three proved to be a conjectural struggle. In order to fully appreciate these films, any prior knowledge, biases, and even my mood had to be discarded before facing the daily film. More so than any other week, my ability to discard supposition was rigorously tested. The need to quickly pick up social cues, cultural and historical context and narrative tendencies was crucial to fully understanding each of week three’s diverse range of films – strengthening my abilities to conceptualize a film’s purpose without any prior research.
The visual manifestations of latent and suppressed sexual desire, Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour, is a dreamlike journey through one woman’s self discovery.
Séverine (Catherine Deneuve) is an upper class housewife plagued by dreams of a brutal husband obsessed by tortuous punishment. Consumed by these visions, she withholds intimacy from her real-life husband (Jean Sorel); a kind and understanding surgeon. Through glimpses into her youth, we see that she survived a troubled childhood wrought with mental and sexual abuse. Unable to break free from her past, Séverine is stuck in her present and unable to express herself. She soon learns that bordellos are still in operation throughout Paris, but have gone underground. Frightened at her intrigue in the unusual profession, Séverine chooses to seek out one such “house.” Meeting with the Madam (Geneviève Page) only further confuses Séverine’s conflicted mind. Deciding to become a prostitute seems to be her only option to break free from her nightmares, and fully express herself as the woman she wants to be.
The prolific and incredibly bizarre, Un Chien Andalou is a blur of surrealist imagery, transitioning from object to object, scene to scene. Dubbed by film critic Roger Ebert as “the most famous short film ever made,” Un Chien Andalou has earned its title through eccentric connections between images, and the sheer bewilderment felt by its audience. Playing mostly like a lucid, drug-induced dream, the film drifts through situations that one would only find deep within the subconscious of a surrealist master. Directed by the incomparable Louis Buñuel in conjunction with famed Dada/surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, the silent film utilizes special effects and camera tricks to bring their fantastic vision to life.