When CHINATOWN got Surreal



Jim Emerson of the Chicago Sun-Times Scanners blog has created a humdinger of a video essay. He takes Roman Polanski’s 1974 classic Chinatown and transforms it into an experimental dream movie worthy of Luis Buñuel. Watch it below, and then see how it compares to Bunuel’s surrealist landmark, Un Chien Andalou (Andalusian Dog).

It never occurred to me that there was a surrealist element to Chinatown, loaded with frames and fetish objects, but this video makes me feel it was in front of my nose all along. I guess I just wasn’t nosy enough, but “you know what happens to nosy people…”

What’s best about this video is how much insight it lends to the film’s visual obsessions and artistry without resorting to a droning, professorial voiceover. Polanski’s images, Emerson’s editing and some of Jerry Goldsmith’s jazz-horror score for atmosphere – that’s a pretty potent recipe.

Chinatown: Frames & Lenses, Doors & Windows from Jim Emerson on Vimeo.

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