Essay Sample on Surrealist Film: Rejecting Theatrical Psychology & Challenging Art

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1778 Words
Date:  2023-01-11


Surrealism is a contemporary approach used in the film theory and it uses shocking and irrational imagery to challenge the long-established art to symbolize reality. Also, primary surrealism aim is to liberate the minds of the people by putting great emphasis on the critical and artistic powers of the unconscious. It should be understood that surrealist film is featured by the complete rejection of theatrical psychology and consistent use of dreadful imagery. Additionally, surrealist film-makers often seek to give human awareness a new dimension by demonstrating that reality has no limit further than what the human has imposed on it. Surrealism is often inclined in exposing psychological reality by extracting normal significance from the ordinary things with the intention of creating inducing imagery beyond the formal organization to whip emotions of the viewership. Therefore, the paper aims to demonstrate and establish the concept of surrealism in films and the influence it has brought on the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

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It should be understood that many of the films of Alfred Hitchcock had elements of surrealism. And the reason behind the extensive use of surrealism was not only to instill the viewers with the sense of weirdness but also to put to fore his criticism of the global political scene during his time, and he was unsure of who were the good and bad guys in the society. Instructively, surrealism influences the viewership to develop an understanding of the political and social ills that bedevil their well-being in general (Sharot 66). Moreover, the surrealist mind of Alfred Hitchcock evoked the feelings of tragic happenings during the Cold War. The psychological impact of surrealism in the film makes the people hinge their thoughts on how the global absurdities ruin the normal aspect of their lives and develop the psyche to tackle them (Tapper 178). Moreover, in the Dali's works, the paintings he uses involve personal torturing psycho-sexual tinge that depicts the manifestation of unconscious in the known world. Instructively, his paints hinge on illusion by using realistic draftsmanship.

Moreover, it should be noted that surrealism in the film of Alfred Hitchcock help in generating an emotional response that challenge the viewer understands the dream and the irrational. Better still, the surrealism in the film usually makes use of the illogical, irrational and horrifying imagery laced with elements of morality. Instructively, Hitchcock in his films and more specifically the Spellbound use the technique to express the atmosphere and absurd situation of the dreams in the film. The utter display of absence of the will of the characters in the surrealist films often makes the viewers conform to the happenings in the dream state (Elder 262). Also, the use of shocking imagery in the surrealist film of Hitchcock creates a diversion from the belief that cinema is primarily for entertainment (Kim 135). The surrealism in the film provides the viewers with the opportunity to experience the hidden meaning of the content of the film and not just the standard visuals. Moreover, surrealism in the film of Hitchcock and Dali enables the cinema to depart from the conventional reliance on story-telling as in the case of literature. It ensures that the film itself becomes self-reliant.

Furthermore, surrealism in the film allows the viewers to see the art in its original and natural form given that it anchorage on imagination and not the rational thought of the film-maker. In Hitchcock and Dali, Spellbound, it can be deduced that the artists expressed their inner emotions and thinking through surrealism which makes the viewers create a connection between the happenings in the cinema and the real-life situation (Gansky 126). It is worth to note that, surrealism has helped in building and inspiring other disciplines like psychology, and politics among others. Salvador Dali and Hitchcock regarded as the father of surrealism have helped many graphic designers to incorporate the concept of surrealism into modern artistry in society (Sharot 69). Moreover, the surrealism often provides the viewers with the opportunity to think logically and develop empathy towards the characters and what they represent in the film. Given the absurd nature of the elements in the surrealist film, the viewers get illusions on the reality which makes the audience gets an understanding of the facets of life and how politics, social and economic spheres can be infused in everyday life.

It is worth to note that surrealism helped in the film of spellbound in conveying the contents of the subconscious to the viewers. The psychological aspect of the paintings made by Dali evokes fascination in the minds of the viewers. Evidentially, surrealism often constitutes an artistic tendency that is neatly woven in various artistic manifestations of human which allows the viewers to develop rationalism (Lowenstein 154). Besides, the infusion of surrealism in the film as in the case of Spellbound depicts both the aspect of fantasy and humor that creates a sense of reality that helps in decoding human emotions. The graphic art that is always depicted in the surrealist films gives a technique of expression relevant to the liberty offered to the artists. The expression of ideas through humor in the surrealist films allows the departure of film-makers from the conventional way of expressing ideas, and this enables the audience to gaze at the infinity and change things in dreams and dreams in things (Elder 272). Also, the concept of surrealism influences the arts of the film given the capability of the surrealism inherent in the cinema to transmit optimism in the minds of the viewers.

The infusion of surrealism in films often leaves behind a mark in the collective imaginations of the viewers, and this is manifested in different spheres of life. The millennial has developed a great interest in surrealism, and the imaginations and the world of dreams have been fused with comedy to fascinate the audience further. Moreover, the audience who consumes the content of the film laced with surrealism often break away from the harsh realities of the everyday life and gets to create imaginations of some objects that influence their overall perception to life. In Spellbound directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the idea of surrealism creates an assemblage of images in a dream-like structure (Tapper 179). The shocking imagery that often characterizes surrealist films usually makes the viewer to draw a strong interconnection between the weird images and the sense of humanity. It cannot be disputed that the human mind does not operate in flowing coherent thoughts and the actions and imaginations of the people are always influenced by surrealism in the film. In Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, Dali surrealist creations take prominence when he designs a dream sequence which depicts a display of eyes which forms the trademark of the film (Lowenstein 147).

Moreover, surrealism always hinges the dream world on the reality, and this demonstrates the underlying cultural issues. In Dali's collaboration with Walt Disney, there is a depiction of nostalgia, and the viewers are reminded of their childhood life something which creates fantasy and humor to the audience. In some instances, surrealism is used in the film to shock the viewers by creating an atmosphere of fear. This makes the audience to understand that the world is not only about the good things as depicted by the entertainment drawn from the film, but also horrifying things and the society should always be alert in dealing with the challenges of the world (Gansky 129). The surrealist film often clarifies the weird images in the film and creates hallucinations in the minds of the people. It is imperative to note that, surrealism as used in the film often makes the audience to quickly digest the content of the film and develop an understanding of the ideas represented in the film. Also, the imagery in the surrealist film always makes the audience to stop being conventional passive viewers and develop the connection between dreams created in the film and the reality.

It is worth to note that, surrealism often elicits the personal emotion about the film and it is always a creative force steered by passion and spontaneity. The elements such as paintings that constitute the surreal film form the driving force that reveals the inherent reality in the mainstream human life and the society as a whole and examines the usefulness of the surrealism in helping the people make personal decisions in life (Elder 266). In the film of Spellbound, the audience is made to understand the idea being propagated by the film and derive the importance of the inherent imagery concerning normal life (Lowenstein 143). Dali succeeded in evoking the curiosity of the audience by hiding the identities of the characters, and this made the audience to extrapolate their imaginations about the subsequent happenings in the film. Also, the surrealist paintings that depict dream-like situation make the audience to understand the significance of the content of the film to their individual life. The surrealist films always attack the traditional aspect of life in the society to create a departure from the traditional ways of entertainment to the contemporary political and social realm.


In conclusion, surrealism has been destabilized with the explanations that characterize the mainstream film. Surrealism is presently incorporated in specific scenes of the modern film to enable the audience to view the surreal conforming to the realism in a broader perspective. It should be understood that surrealism has greatly influenced the film of Alfred Hitchcock in many different ways and the audience is made to connect the imagery in the film and the daily life and infer their relevance in the real society. In Hitchcock collaboration with Dali in the film Spellbound, they seek to re-define the human conception of reality and influence their understanding of the imagery in the film. Instructively, the surrealism in the film often makes the audience to relate dream-like traits of the characters in the surrealist film make them change their view of the various facets of life. It is worth to note that surrealism remains a critical ingredient in the art of cinema and the film-makers often rely on it to evoke the emotions of the audience concerning the issues inherent in the surrealist film.

Works Cited

Elder, R. Bruce. Dada, surrealism, and the cinematic effect. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 2015, pp. 262-281

Gansky, Paul. "Severed Objects: Spellbound, Archives, Exhibitions, and Film's Material History." Film History: An International Journal 25.3, 2013, pp.126-148.

Kim, Mijeong. "Che Vuoi? Beyond the Cartesian Space in Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound." The Journal of Literature and Film 14, 2013, pp.35-66.

Lowenstein, Adam. Dreaming of cinema: Spectatorship, surrealism, and the age of digital media. Columbia University Press, 2014, pp. 143-160

Sharot, Stephen. "Dreams in Films and Films as Dreams: Surrealism and popular American cinema." Canadian Journal of Film Studies 24.1, 2015, pp. 66-89.

Tapper, Michael. "Alfred Hitchcock's America." 2014, pp. 178-179.

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Essay Sample on Surrealist Film: Rejecting Theatrical Psychology & Challenging Art. (2023, Jan 11). Retrieved from

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