A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Luis Bunuel said that if he were told he had 20 years to live and was asked how he wanted to live them, his reply would be: "Give me two hours a day of activity, and I'll take the other 22 in dreams -- provided I can remember them." Dreams were the nourishment of his films, and from his earliest days as a surrealist in Paris to his triumphs in his late 70s, dream logic was always likely to interrupt the realism of his films. That freedom gave them a quality so distinctive that, like those of Alfred Hitchcock and Federico Fellini, they could be identified almost immediately.
His first film, written in collaboration with the notorious surrealist artist Salvador Dali, was "Un Chien Andalou" (1928). Neither the title ("an Andalusian dog") nor anything else in the film was intended to make sense. It remains the most famous short film ever made, and anyone halfway interested in the cinema sees it sooner or later, usually several times.
It was made in the hope of administering a revolutionary shock to society. "For the first time in the history of the cinema," wrote the critic Ado Kyrou, "a director tries not to please but rather to alienate nearly all potential spectators." That was then, this is now. Today, its techniques have been so thoroughly absorbed even in the mainstream that its shock value is diluted--except for that famous shot of the slicing of the eyeball, or perhaps the shot of the man dragging the grand piano that has the priests and the dead donkeys on top of it. . . .
It is useful to remember that "Un Chien Andalou" was made not by the Bunuel and Dali that we see as crumbling old men in photographs, but by headstrong young men in their 20s, intoxicated by the freedom of Paris during the decade of the Lost Generation. There is a buried connection between the surrealists and the Sex Pistols, Bunuel and David Lynch, Dali and Damien Hirst (the artist who exhibited half a lamb in a cube of plastic). "Although the surrealists didn't consider themselves terrorists," Bunuel wrote in his autobiography, "they were constantly fighting a society they despised. Their principal weapon wasn't guns, of course; it was scandal."