This weekend’s short animation for you all to enjoy comes at the recommendation of @NoelCT, a friend of the blog and an all round good chap. He highlighted this video via Twitter, and if you find any short animations you feel may be of interest, please let me know on social media of any kind, or just in the comments section below.
Surrealism is not dead! The movement, made popular in the 20s, was famed for shocking, almost nonsensical images and plotless explorations of fractured psyches. This weekend’s animated short feels like a modern version of these disturbing classics, and this short article will explore the influences of surrealism on this modern short.
Katayama Takuto‘s strange, captivating animation Dissimilated Vision comes across like a blend of classic surrealist directors Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Luis Buñuel; a plotless, obfuscating short that uses the image of the human body in strange an unnerving ways. Dali is perhaps the most obvious influence here, with the repeated use of eyes reminiscent of his famous dream sequence in Hitchcock’s Spellbound; blinking, soulless and everywhere. Eyes where they should not be are always terrifying – Guillermo del Toro used them effectively in both Hellboy II and Pan’s Labyrinth – and so this short could easily be classified as body-horror.
Aside from Dali, this film also feels rooted in Buñuel and Man Ray, two other master surrealists. Dissimilated Vision could almost be described as a series of match-cuts – the technique in which you take two similar shaped objects and match them up to cut between two different scenes (the most famous example of this is from 2001: A Space Odyssey when a bone floating through the air is matched to a space station). Buñuel loved the potential of match-cuts to jar and shock audiences, and in his short Un Chien Andalou, he starts the film with a cloud crossing a moon, before cutting to… well you have to see it to believe it, but it was shocking in the 20s and it’s still shocking now. Takuto’s film, freed from the constraints of live action, is like a constant stream of these edits, with one shape quickly transforming into another, creating a disorienting short that Buñuel would be sure to enjoy. Meanwhile the sparse, staccato piano score that accompanies Dissimilated Vision, set against the monochromatic animation, is as dissonant and uncomfortable as Man Ray’s ironically named short A Return to Reason. The result of this chaotic group of influences is a film quite unique and bizarre. I won’t try to shed any kind of meaning on it, however, as that’s something you should do for yourselves.
All the surrealist shorts and clips mentioned in this are on YouTube, so be sure to check them out if the surrealist movement is something that interests you. Be warned though, they are very weird.