Close Up and the Surrealist mind wk. 12 (6 of 8)

Actually, post (7 of 8).

This week's post is a combination of last week's discussion on Surrealism and this week's discussion on Surrealism in film. I find it ironic that Close Up is the title of the magazine we are reading this week considering Surrealism's occupation with the unconscious mind. I consider the unconscious mind a closer look at the mind that focuses on its hidden inner workings. Close Up magazine seems to function in the same way by taking its readers on a journey of the inner workings of the literary world and its relation to the artistic medium of cinema. The articles in Close Up don't review films on a surface level, but they dive deep into the psychoanalytic elements of the film and what the film does to the mind: How do the mechanics of lighting, staging, movement, setting, etc. affect the mind of the viewer. As was discussed in our last class discussion of the 1930 silent film Borderline, by Eisenstein on the role of the film. "The film takes its viewers onto a psychoanalytic journey into the character almost creating a mental condition" (233). The phrase mental condition really struck me as I was reading because Eisenstein's connection of mental condition to film seems to be as a temporary condition that takes over the viewer while they are under the influence of a specific film. When I think of mental condition, I think of something static that is not contingent on one's current state, but that persists after the film has ended. I had also never heard the phrase mental condition used in the context of the film, but watching Borderline does create a kind of psychoanalytic mental condition on behalf of the viewer with its specific focus on the mental processes of the characters; a focus that is made even more noticeable by the lack of sound. Because the film is silent, viewers are forced to pay extreme attention to the movements of the characters; as Lily mentioned the extreme attention that is given to the hands, and what that means in terms of Surrealism. The movements of the character's bodies did seem to connect to their mental processes. Is this the psychoanalytic element of the silent film that Eisenstein was referring to? 

This is not my first time watching the film, I had watched it before with Drouin in one of his undergraduate classes. At the time I connected the actions of the characters in the film to the pervasive nervousness of a post WW1 society that was constantly on edge. Now, with what I have learned about Surrealism, I connect that nervousness to the mental condition that is described by Eisenstein. 


The mental stress must have been quite real when it was pouring out on pages and paintings of the people who lived in this difficult war. Expressing this in various ways would have helped to deal with the tension of war or living under German occupation, as Magritte was forced to do. While it was terrible, it also gave new ideas and inspiration to creators and made for facinating subjects in Surrealist art.