Journal of Surrealism and the Americas, Vol 9, No 1 (2016)

'Polycythemia,' or Surrealist Intertextuality in the Light of Cinematic 'Anemia'

Robert James Belton


Robert Desnos’s and Man Ray’s 1928 film L'Etoile de mer has long been considered an exemplar of the surrealist love story, thematically similar to Salvador Dalí’s and Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien andalou (1929) but less overtly shocking. In comparison to the elaborate iconographical analyses of Chien, critiques of L'Etoile tend to describe its avant-garde cinematic style, to distinguish how it illustrates or deviates from Desnos’s scenario, or to provide summary analysis of some of its more obviously Freudian iconography. There have been fewer scholarly explorations of specific symbolism, yet the film exhibits many political-philosophical intertexts, one of which explicitly builds a bridge between the surrealist revolution and America’s core self-signifier, Liberty.

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