Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Un Chein Andalou Analysis

Un Chein Andalou (Translated means 'An Andalusian Dog) is a 1929 surrealist film said to be based on the studies of theorist Sigmund Freud. By considering certain key scenes, we can apply some of freud's theories on the dynamic unconscious, the castration complex and fetishism, and possibly the Oedipus complex.

Around two minutes into the piece, we see a subject riding a bike, dressed in feminine attire. It is also important to note the box worn around the male's neck. Similar boxes are referenced throughout the film, signifying their relevance. The fact that the male is wearing female attire quite clearly breaks convention. It could be argued that this is a representation of the 'ID' freudian model, which contains the animalistic urges suppressed by our 'super-ego' and our knowledge of social conventions. The box perhaps is a visual metaphor to show the area of the human psyche where urges and fetishes gained form childhood experience are suppressed and hidden.

around four minute into the film, we see a young female examining a severed hand. This could be considered to depict Freud's castration complex. In this case, it is the sensation that female feels she is missing something after realising she has no phallus. In his text 'Fetishism', Freud mentions that the fetish is 'a substitute for the woman's (the mother's) penis that the little boy once believed in...' Although this quote is directed toward the male psyche, it could arguably be subverted to explain the woman in the film's fascination with the severed hand. Perhaps the hand is symbolic of the castrated penis itself, leading the woman to store it her box of suppressed urges as a replacement for her absence of the penis.

Remaining on Freud's 'Fetishism' text, we see the main male subject groping the lead female above the clothes. In his text, Freud states: 'This piece of clothing covered up the genitals entirely and concealed the distinction between them.' Perhaps the male in the piece finds some attraction in the way that the females dress conceals her body, masking the fact that she is missing the phallus. This relates again to the time where the child believed his mother owned a penis, and he had no fear of being stripped of his. Note that there is also a focus on the groping of the breasts. When Freud talks about the Oedipus complex, he talks about the intimate bond a child develops with their mother during early years of development. Breast feeding is one of the first forms of contact a child will experience with their mother, showing that perhaps some of the male's sexual urges may derive from this deep bond established with the mother. This particular complex seems to be revisited later in the film.

Around eight minutes into the piece, the lead male attempts to ravish the female in his presence. His actions initially seem to be a clear representation of the 'ID' Freudian model. interestingly, the male is weighed down by a chariot of pianos, dead animals and human priests. This is likely symbolic of the 'Super-ego' suppressing and holding back the male's primitive sexual urges. Particularly the reference to the religious priests fortifies this view. Evidently in religion, their are many values and beliefs which are 
injected into society. There is a feeling of a constant weight of judgement over the male's shoulders.

Perhaps the most powerful reference made to the 'Super-ego' takes place ten minutes into the piece. a physical embodiment of the lead character himself enters the room. The lead character has now returned to his feminine attire, and is told by his conventional self to stand in the corner as a child would be commanded to do. It could be seen that this conventional reflection of the lead male is the physical representation of the 'Super-ego'. This is backed up by the conventional male throwing the other male's unconventional clothing out the window, displaying a demand for the effeminate male to follow what is accepted within society. The Super-ego then hands the effeminate male a book, which could resemble the 'dynamic unconscious'. this is the trait which Freud discusses, where the infant visits the taboo and socially unacceptable area of mind in order to protect the future self. This book then manifests itself into the form of two handguns. It could be said that the shooting of the conventional male is symbolic of the animalistic qualities within the human psyche breaking loose. As the conformist male dies, he clutches the naked back of a woman, which could be seen again as a representation of the intimate bond between mother and son.

In the final scene, a new male character is introduced. This new character could be taken as the father, as the female immediately develops a seemingly loving bond with the male. Another clue could be the final reference to the 'ID' box, which is smashed. We can imagine that through reaching an intimate bond, the couple feel they now feel no need to suppress and hide their deep insecurities. The couple are finally depicted dead in the sand. Quiet morbidly, this could be relating back to Freud's Oedipus complex, where the child develops a deep loathing and jealousy towards the intimacy between the mother and father.

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