Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel’s Surrealist Film ‘Un Chien Andalou’ Guest Stars on ‘The Bear’

Many things get sliced in full view of the camera on The Bear, an FX TV series set at a Chicago restaurant, but the newly released third season features a rather unusual one: a human eyeball.

That split-open peeper appears in this season’s ninth episode, during a montage that also features footage from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes (1948), Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), and other famed movies. The eyeball shot is also appropriated from a storied film, Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, a 1929 short that is considered a cornerstone of Surrealism.

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Un Chien Andalou, like many other Surrealist works, deploys a dream-like logic, drifting freely between a range of memorable, grotesque images, with no obvious cause-and-effect structure to bind them. It has been celebrated in particular for one shot in which a man runs a razor blade across a woman’s eye. This action is, of course, simulated, although a quick cut to a shot of a blade slicing through an actual animal’s eye makes it appear real.

In fact, according to Surrealist lore, the image of a knife cutting through the moon, “like a razor blade slicing through an eye,” was one that Buñuel had dreamed and even told Dalí about. That conversation drove the two to make the short, which recently ranked at #169 on a Sight and Sound poll of the greatest films of all time, as selected by critics. (Though there are still another six months before the film enters the common domain in the US, full versions of it proliferate online.)

In The Bear, the eyeball shots come during a sequence intended to communicate the value of magic and entertainment. Marcus, a chef played by Lionel Boyce, is shown watching on his laptop an edit of movie clips that feature card games and alien invasions, which he marvels over.

Voiceover from Martin Scorsese communicates how the everyday can be tweaked by filmmakers ever so slightly to offer an alternate perspective on life. “Something else is existing here, I don’t know what,” Scorsese says over images from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). “Something is happening that’s not part of our normal day, in terms of the nature of how we live, but we’re trying to create something different.”


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