L'Etoile De Mer has the unfortunate problem of being one of the most interpretable of the films made by the surrealists, it has the fortunate problem of being one of the best.

Since it is a surrealist film it is really impossible to describe the plot, there is some sort of hinting at a plot, that involves starfish, obsessive men, and half clothed women, but none of it makes very much sense unless you interpret everything.

I on the whole, hate interpreting things, allegory is a rather outdated concept, and I don't really believe that the surrealists were very fond of it. Unfortunatly because they talked about dreams a lot people associated surrealism with pop psychology, and came to the conclusion that surrealist artwork can be "interpreted" to get at the "true meaning."

There is a rather famous interpretation of this film, by a guy whose name I don't feel the need to remember, which describes this film as being about the vagina dentata. I think this interpretation is ridiculous, and I'm not going to mention it further, I won't even define what a vagina dentata is for people who can't get the jist of Latin.

I only mention it at this point, because it derives its interpretation from something very purposefully done by the film makers. A line from surrealist poet Robert Desnos "There is nothing quite as charming as a woman's teeth," is juxtaposed with the bottom half of the woman, and then the woman undressing.

I'm prone to take this statement very seriously, and I think anyone who has a sense of surrealism will do the same. Instead of saying the combination of shots means something different from what it describes, I would argue that the combination of shots emphasizes the mysteriousness (the surrealness if you will), of sexual attraction. Because no matter how much people talk about various "trends" in eroticism, what people really erotically attach themselves to is quirks in the physical appearance of someone. I for one really do find woman's teeth positivly charming (and I'm sure more than one of my readers would agree), and I am positive that more people are attracted to their various lovers for the little things that they do then they are for their sexual organs.

Sexual obsession (which the surrealists loved), has little to do with the actual sexual act. Whenever one gets involved with another person, whether you are the most calloused of seducers, or most holy of prudes, there is a sense of mystery about how you ended up knowing a person in this way, and the full expression of people is always more than overwhelming. This was no small theme in surrealism, and it is really what this film is about.

When watching a surrealist film, one should never try to interpret it, one has to let the innate strangeness disconnect you from "understanding," and let you feel the overpowering beauty, hilarity, and in the end, the innate realness of the experience of the unreal... That is, the experience of love.

Buy L'Etoile De Mer

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