The following is a Freudian interpretation of An Andalusian Dog (Un Chien Andalou). It is one of many possible interpretations of the film. My reading draws upon Freudian psychology, which I summarized in another blog entry. The narrative of the film is illogical, like the narrative of a dream. Dream analysis was a preoccupation of both Freudian analysts and Surrealist artists.
The film begins with the sexual act, which is an act of violence. This is represented by the sliced eye-ball of the woman.
A child is born, a boy; birth, too, is a violent act. This is represented by the injured boy who has fallen off his bike.
The boy is disturbed by a sexually undifferentiated (androgynous) female and becomes aware of his own sexuality. The boy is both hostile towards, and aroused by, the androgynous person. He takes sexual pleasure in her death.
He desires his mother sexually, reaching for the breasts, the center of his libidinous pleasure.
but is thwarted and held back by societal conventions (Ten Commandments, dead horse, pianos, priests)
and by the threatened violence of his father, who berates him, in a sense saying “grow up!”
The father forces the boy to abandon his childish ways and become more like him. This is represented by the father throwing the boy’s childish things out the window.
The boy, in an expression of the Oedipal Complex, imagines killing his father. It is humorously represented as a shoot-out, the kind featured in cowboy or gangster films.
Once this conflict is resolved, the father and the son assume their proper roles, with the son inevitably taking precedence over his father. This is represented by the son being much taller than his father. (Granted, this association is even more illogical than the ones previously discussed, since now the father and the son are played by different actors, in what seems to be another film entirely. A similar thing occurs at the end of the film.)
Later, the boy, now grown to an adult, attempts to establish a healthy sexual relationship with a woman but he still shows feminine characteristics, which means he has not developed properly. This is represented by the woman’s armpit hair (standing in for her pubic hair) on the man’s face.
Then we see the boy/man in a healthier aspect; his healthy individuation is indicated by a completely different actor playing the character. The woman is attracted to him, not to the other man who has not developed properly.
The man and his female lover walk along the shore, representing the font of life from which we all come and to which we all return.
The man shows his disgust for childish things. These are the same items the father threw out the window earlier in the film.
The film ends with death, at which point the cycle begins again. (Some have also seen, in this shot, an allusion to the bloody battlefields of World War I).