The full moon, the eye and the razor in the movie »An Andalusian Dog«


This classic of the surrealistic movie scene (the original in French »Un Chien Andalou«) by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, evoked mixed reactions when released in Paris, in 1929. Even from a current perspective, the movie polarizes, whereby its artistic value remains indisputable.

The approximately sixteen minute act consists of a series of individual sequences, which show different encounters of men and women. There are dream-like, symbolic, and partly absurd scenes that do not create a plot in the classic sense. Yet, the movie projects some sort of development, however, it remains incomprehensible.

The most famous scene is the opening sequence, where a man (played by Buñuel himself), who sharpens a razor, steps onto a balcony and gazes into the nightly sky. You can see the full moon at first, then, how in his own fantasy or possibly another man (identifiable by the tie), takes the razor and aims it at the eye of a woman that sits in front of him. A narrow band of clouds passes the full moon. Then the razor is shown again and how it cuts through the eye … a gelatinous mass oozes out of the eye.


The full moon and the eye, the cloud and the razor … the images are accompanied by Argentinean tango music, which stands in stark contrast to the dramatic nature of the scene. An injury to the eye is for everyone a traumatic vision, in this respect, this scene makes a primal human fear subject of discussion, and strikes the audience in their vulnerability. The fact that Buñuel used the eye of a dead cow is reassuring (and also recognizable, if envisioning today’s movie effects in comparison), yet, it still leaves you with an unpleasant feeling.

Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí were inspired by their own dreams – an important moment of surrealistic art – and gained great popularity with this piece. It is the depiction of life and death, of creation and destruction that are reflected here. The full moon as a symbol of entirety that runs the risk of getting destroyed plays a crucial part.

Because the movie has a PG-rating of 13–16 in different countries, we will not show it here.

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