Surréalisme: Theory, Practice, and in Play

In the cinema I have always distinguished a quality peculiar to the secret movement and matter of images. The cinema has an unexpected and mysterious side which we find in no other form of art.

– Antonin Artaud

The Seashell and the Clergyman (French: La Coquille et le clergyman) is considered by many to be the first surrealist film. It was directed by Germaine Dulac, from an original scenario by Antonin Artaud, and premiered in Paris on 9 February 1928

Director: Germaine Dulac
Writer: Antonin Artaud
Stars: Alex Allin, Genica Athanasiou and Lucien Bataille


So I demand phantasmagorical films […] The cinema is an amazing stimulant. It acts directly on the grey matter of the brain. When the savour of art has been sufficiently combined with the psychic ingredient which it contains it will go way beyond the theatre which we will relegate to a shelf of memories.” Artaud


The Shadow and Its Shadow, Surrealist Writings on the Cinema

Here is a classic collection of writings by the Surrealists on their mad love of moviegoing. Forty-odd theoretical, polemical, and poetical essays document Surrealism’s scandalous and nonreductive take on film. The essayists include such names as Breton, Aragon, Desnos, Dali, Bunuel, and Man Ray, as well as many of the less famous, though equally fascinating figures of the movement.




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 CITY LIGHTS AT 60: Surréalisme: Theory, Practice, and in Play

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013, 7 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

Why does City Lights have strong connections and interest in Surrealism? Join City Lights’ very own Garrett Caples, Peter Maravelis and their friends in an evening of readings, discussion, parlor games, and much more.

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