The Seashell and the Clergyman
La coquille et le clergyman
Surrealism is traditionally considered the domain of the male artist, and in Surrealist filmmaking the standard reference point is Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929).
What is often forgotten is the work of women Surrealists, here French avant-garde filmmaker Germaine Dulac, who created The Seashell and the Clergymen (1927). Described by the BFI as an “important early example of radical experimental feminist filmmaking”, the film follows an obsessive priest who falls, crawls, chases and strangles the figures who get the way of his pursuit of his desired, yet forbidden, woman. At a Paris screening at Studio Les Ursulines in 1928, the film was advertised as “a dream on the screen”. But is it a nightmare?