The 10 Best Surrealist Movies, Ranked According To IMDb – Screen Rant

There are many great directors who dabble in surrealism, like David Lynch, but not all can it well. Here are the best surrealist movies as per IMDb.
It’s easy to confuse strange moments in movies as being surreal, but not all of them are. A surreal moment in a movie isn’t simply a dream sequence where those events don’t affect real life. Surrealism in movies is when illogical and irrational disruptions exist in everyday life, and those disruptions are uncensored by consciousness and just as organic in the world as anything else.
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There are have been so many great surreal movies throughout the decades, whether they’re about cannibals in post-apocalyptic France or a has-been actor who may or may not be a superhero. And though many great filmmakers dabble in surrealism, it’s clear that David Lynch and Charlie Kaufman are the undisputed surreal champions.
Not many people have seen Delicatessen, but it’s one of the most imaginative and bittersweet depictions of the future. In the French movie, food is in short supply, rice is the most common food, and it has led to cannibalism. A landlord of an apartment building butchers handymen and uses them for food.
Then there are the Troglodistes, who are a group of vegetarian renegades who live underground. The movie is completely ridiculous, but it’s also so much fun, and there’s also a moral behind it. The movie is visually striking too, and the post-apocalyptic vision of France is surprisingly delightful to look at.
Birdman blurs the line between reality and fantasy from the very opening shot of the movie, as Riggan is meditating floating in the air. And just as it has a great opening shot, Birdman has one of the most memorable final shots in a movie from the 2010s, as Riggan leaps out of a window attempting to take his life, and his daughter, Sam, looks up and smiles.
It leaves the audience to wonder if he did actually take his own life or if he turned into Birdman after all. What helps the movie feel more surreal is the genius way the two hours look like one continuous shot, as all the cuts and edits are hidden in the darker sequences.
Writer Charlie Kaufman has always used a surreal approach to tell twisted romance stories, and Being John Malkovich is the best example of all of them. The movie is about three people who seemingly become part of a polyamorous relationship, only two of the three people become more in love with each other than the third.
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But while all this is going on, they are casually charging people to enter a portal into real-life actor John Malkovich’s mind for 15 minutes at a time, almost like a theme park ride. It becomes even more obscure, heartbreaking, and outright shocking when the two narratives intertwine.
On the face of it, Barton Fink is a simple story about a screenwriter with writer’s block and his relationship with Charlie, a serial killer whose trademark is to cut the heads off his victims. The storyline is typically wacky and what is expected of the Coen brothers, but that in itself isn’t exactly surreal.
What makes Barton Fink a surrealist film is the hotel that Fink stays at and what it is a symbol of. It is a representation of Charlie’s mind, and just as sweat drips from Charlie’s brow, wallpaper peels from the walls. It’s all explained at the end when Charlie states that he’s a prisoner of his own mental state.
Just like most David Lynch-directed movies, at first, Blue Velvet seems like a classic mystery movie, but there’s so much more to it. It’s hard to explain the mastery of Lynch, especially when it comes to the way he creates surreal environments, but Blue Velvet is one of the most interesting in his filmography.
Where most of the director’s films take place in worlds that are more fantastical and surreal than the real-life world and are almost dream-like, Blue Velvet is equally grounded in reality and completely surreal. And that’s why it’s David Lynch’s masterpiece.
Where all other movies with heavy elements of surrealism still feature a narrative, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a wholly surrealist movie. There is almost no discernible or coherent plot other than the fact that a group of people is trying to enjoy a meal together.
That meal is continuously interrupted by strange happenings. However, the bizarre and unfathomable occurrences are accepted by the characters, and it’s mischievous and hilarious. But there are parts of the movie that demand audiences dig deeper, whether it’s the film’s political satire or religious allegories.
Brazil is a satirical take on what people imagine the future to be, and in all its black-comedy glory, is disturbingly accurate in some ways. There are so many surreal things in the world conjured up by Terry Gilliam that its occupants absurdly find completely normal.
From old women getting outrageous facelifts to a wealth-obsessed and money-hungry society, the observations are spot on but hilariously over the top. Even the title of the movie is somewhat surreal, as the film isn’t about the country and it isn’t based there either, but it’s instead titled after the theme song, “Aquarela do Brasil.”
Being the master of surrealism, it’s hardly surprising that Mulholland Drive is the second of two David Lynch movies to top IMDb when it comes to surrealist films. The film is quite simply a murder mystery movie, but the plot is never resolved and, by the end, there are more questions than answers.
There are monsters that aren’t given reason to exist and there are so many MacGuffins that lead nowhere. The movie can often feel frustrating, but it’s an audio/visual experience unlike any other. It’s beautiful looking and a conversation starter, as fans are still debating what Mulholland Drive means today.
At this point, The Seventh Seal is 64 years old, but it remains one of the most memorable movies of all time, at least in terms of its iconic imagery. The movie is about a man who plays chess with the Grim Reaper to prolong his life as long as possible before it’s inevitably taken.
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What follows is several philosophical questions about life, death, God, and so many other things. Between the iconic visuals and the dialogue in the film, The Seventh Seal is one of the few surrealist movies that is timeless.
Another movie penned by Charlie Kaufman, the writer adds science-fiction to his standard mix of surrealism and romance. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind follows a man who wants to forget every memory he has of his ex-girlfriend. And in this movie world, companies with the ability to erase memories is a completely normal thing, like getting cosmetic surgery.
As the doctors undergo the process of wiping his mind while he’s sleeping, most of the film follows the character as he tries to hide the memories in other parts of his mind so they can’t be erased. Few other movies can pull off surrealism in such an emotional way.
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