Surrealism in Terror and Cinema – The Sub-genre of Interpretive Works

By not having a traditional narrative, surrealism can generate unique situations that no other sub-genre can.

Terror invariably has a very thankless job: it can’t only function like a movie in all of its technicalities, it not only has a cohesive storyline but it must also leave a mark on the audience. Unlike any other genre, some closer to the real thing, which only need to technically stand out, terror has the downside of often dealing with previous public skepticism and then trying to make a connection. with the public to be afraid.

This is difficult and as the generations change so does skepticism and the public is already “vaccinated” against any sample of traditional terror. But there are types of storytelling that don’t set out to be traditional, they embrace the surreal and offer audiences scenes that don’t necessarily have a concept built throughout the film, but which in a way , has meaning in the way it plays.

Then, in 1981, when the character of Anna looks at the camera (the audience) and a slight smile forms until it reaches a peak of extreme madness, the viewer knows that he is witnessing something. something quite instinctive, something that bothers him. What he sees the culmination of a completely interpretive experience he has had on a misfortune and, therefore, is his personal horror.

Isabelle Adjani’s interpretation of “Possession” is emblematic of the horror genre

This scenario is presented in Possession; Andrzej Zulawski’s work is part of a very specific style of terror that is the surrealist. This means that it has a certain poetic license to rely on a non-traditional narrative (i.e. one that does not follow a clear order of events) that may disrupt or hinder the experience of some viewers, but that the same almost schizophrenic freedom grants the film the possibility of daring the aesthetic.

It is in this sub-genre that the Ukrainian director has specialized and developed a style of narration that does not depend so much on clear language but on very powerful images. In 1988, for example, he launched Globo de Prata, which aims to be a science fiction on the analysis of social behavior, in particular those linked to religious worship.

To talk about something so fleeting and complex, Zulawski uses a unique setting to represent this society and its beliefs, as well as dark, bluish lighting to transpose the whimsical, desperate tone he wants to convey. In the article Polish Poetry, Politics and Surrealism: Zulawski’s Last Film, author Daniel Bird explains how the filmmaker deals with surrealism. “According to Zulawski, his own surrealism is the result of pressure on the tendency of Polish romanticism to excess. Like Grombowicz, Zulawski’s relationship with Polish Romanticism is far from definitive.

“Globo de Prata” is the visual deconstruction of the formation of a society

Thus, the way in which the director approaches the surreal with Possession ends up showing itself more as a means of exteriorizing the internal conflicts of the protagonist couple. Which ultimately results in scenes like the madness of the character played by Isabelle Adjani in the metro tunnel or the visions taken by her husband played by Sam Neill. Thus, if horror is the genre that dialogues with the particular and primitive fears of the spectator, its surrealist approach is one which, because of the absurdity which is already its own, is able to translate this painting.

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Surrealism, of course, is not limited to terror and has already left its mark in a number of other films. I Want To Be John Malkovich is a drama / comedy about discontent with self-identity and the sudden chance to get a new one through the discovery of a passage that leads to other people’s minds ends, however, it already belongs to someone else.

An Andalusian dog (one of the oldest examples in the segment, dating from 1929) is not limited to any cinematic genre, nor does it allow you to have a plot. Instead, sequences of different scenes are presented that do not dialogue with each other or make no sense at first.

There is a lot to interpret in “Um Cão Andaluz” and absolutely no response

The work was a production by Spanish Luis Buñel with surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and whose screenplay was based on dreams the two had. In the book Surrealism and Cinema, a certain characteristic of this style is emphasized by author Michael Richardson. “When we analyze films in the context of surrealism, we should not ask ourselves if a particular film or director is surreal. The main question to ask is: how does considering this particular film or director in relation to surrealism help us shed light on both surrealism and the film?

This Richardson line of thinking is interesting because it suits the style of a certain filmmaker. There is no name in Hollywood more tied to surrealism than David Lynch, the director who built his name through completely interpretive thrillers such as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and, most importantly, Twin Peaks. The initial plot about Laura Palmer’s murder served as Lynch’s justification for developing a whole mythology for her dream world; which does not always make it difficult to discern what is real and what is a dream.

From the success of the series, the director was able to launch in 1992 the suspense Twin Peaks: The last days of Laura Palmer; one that, despite being a prequel to the series, has a different pace. In a simple way, this film manages to be an example of suspense doped by surrealism.

There is a terrifying personal drama involved in “The Last Days of Laura Palmer”

The characteristic fantasy elements of Lynch are still there and the initial part of the screening has a not very linear storytelling characteristic of the surreal works already mentioned, but the story of this film is much more about domestic violence and constant terror than it is. generates victim. Much as Possession did, the inexplicable here comes into play as a tool for the protagonist to release the horror that consumes her within.

There are modern examples of this subgenre, although most are concentrated outside the Hollywood spectrum. Maybe the big sample lately was O Farol, where two sailors face an unreal situation in concept but the ramifications end up translating into violence between them and therefore into something totally real. Surrealism in Terror understands, like no other sub-genre, that the unreal, while not meant to be digestive at first, has a capacity to adapt particularly to each viewer that no one else does. at. This is probably the definitive path left for the fantasy to bypass skepticism and reach the primitive sense of the human being.

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