Experimental film

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An experimental film is a film that does not conform to traditional cinematographic and filmic conventions, and instead explores new ideas or areas.

Some of these films are very mild, using occasional surreal imagery and/or visual metaphors. However, many of these films are intended to be shocking and horrific. If examined with a socially conservative eye, the films may seem like exploitation. This is not the intent of this author, nor of the original work, though aesthetic and social schema, which define works as pornographic and obscene have been purposefully co-opted, exploited, and subsequently rejected by these films.

These films are open to a multitude of interpretations.

Some Famous Examples of Experimental Films

Un chien andalou (1929) - One of the most famous, and earliest examples of surrealism in film. It is a plotless film, which consists of several seemingly random images. Some of these images include a close-up of a woman's eye being slashed open with a razor; a man dragging a piano, two bishops, and a pair of rotting donkeys across a room; ants swarming around a hole in a man's palm; and sundry severed limbs and gratuitous slayings. The "eyeball" scene is one of the most famous (and notorious) scenes in the history of cinema. It still has the power to shock and provoke. This film is not recommended for children.

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) - A very famous film, which resembles a dream. Most often described as a "trance film" or a "dream film," Meshes derives its power from increasingly charged imagery that turns ordinary household props into signs of sexual desire and self-annihilation, while discordant editing and double exposures literally fracture Deren into several selves. The film is poetic, rather than narrative. The film's narrative is circular, and repeats a number of psychologically symbolic images, including a flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a mysterious Grim Reaper-like cloaked figure with a mirror for a face, a phone off the hook, and an ocean. This film is okay for older children.

El Topo (1970) - An incredibly violent Mexican film about a black-clad gunfighter and his quest for enlightenment. The film features heavy doses of Christian symbolism and Eastern philosophy. In fact, many people have called it a "religious film". The film has lots of bizarre and surreal imagery, and loads of over-the-top violence. This film is not recommended for children.

Eraserhead (1977) - Another famous film, which is "a dream of dark and troubling things" (according to David Lynch, the director). The plot concerns Henry Spencer, a man living in an unnamed industrial wasteland. Upon learning that a past romance has resulted in an impending pregnancy, Henry agrees to wed mother-to-be Mary and moves her into his tiny, squalid flat. Their baby is born hideously mutated, a strange, reptilian creature whose piercing cries never cease. Mary soon flees in horror and disgust, leaving Henry to fall prey to the seduction of the girl across the hall. Some say the film portrays a pro-life message. The baby seems to be fractured and damaged. To date, David Lynch has refused to say a word about the film in any kind of public forum, preferring that viewers make up their own minds about what it all means. The only comment he’s made is on the 2000 DVD release of the film. He states that no one has come close to the true meaning of the film. This film is not recommended for children.