Top 10 Best Surreal Movies You Should Watch


surreal movies

Hey guys!. In this post, I’ll be discussing a list of Top 10 Best Surreal Movies You Should Watch. Those films that have a tendency to leave us scratching our heads or wondering how much is real or if what you're watching is a dream. So, without further ado, here are 10 surreal films that we think you should watch mixed in with some of your own selections. They are in no particular order and rest assured, there won't be any spoilers. So let’s get started.

1. The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie.

We begin today's list with one of the filmmakers that is often credited as one of the founders of the surrealist movement in film: Luis Bunuel and his movie The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie. It's somewhat difficult to describe the film's plot because there isn't exactly one, other than the recurring element that a group of six friends are supposed to have a meal together, but they never end up eating because something always ends up interrupting them. The interruptions range from mundane misunderstandings to bizarre occurrences and serve as a criticism of the bourgeoisie. Even without a clear-cut guiding story, this film is very enjoyable and at times comedic as we follow these characters' intertwining lives that sometimes flirt with mystery, terrorism, politics and even magical realism. If you're looking into beginning to explore the surreal, this film serves as a very approachable entry point. 

2. Brazil.

Up next is Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Sam Lowry is a low-level technocrat that works as part of the bureaucracy that governs society. He's very good at his job but doesn't want to be promoted. He often dreams and fantasizes of flying away from the world along with the woman of his dreams. One day, in the midst of an investigation into a wrongful arrest, he gets to meet the woman he's been dreaming about, forcing him to step out of his as of yet unchanging life. This movie's absurd reality is rivaled by the protagonist's dreams. There's a certain dark humor that stems from all of the consequences that arise because of one misspelled name at the start of the film. The performances, the visuals and the attention to detail really ingrain the viewer into this dark, overly procedural and sometimes eerily familiar world. 

3. Videodrome.

We're staying in the 80's for our next entry. David Cronenberg's Videodrome. Max Renn is the president of a tv station that airs x-rated material. He's searching for something newer and edgier and happens upon a pirated broadcast of a show dubbed Videodrome, where people are tortured and killed on screen. To Max, this is the future of television. "No plot, no characters, very very realistic. I think it's what's next." His pursuit of the show's origins leads him down a dangerous path that keeps you guessing what is real and what isn't. Like most of Cronenberg's body of work, the story's outlandish concepts are complemented by disturbing body horror and apt social commentary that is very much still applicable to this day. Videodrome might not give you all the answers or explanations but it will remain with you for a while. 

4. 8 1/2.

Now we go two decades further into the past with our following selection: Federico Fellini's 8 1/2. If you're someone who's ever worked in directing, writing, or creating art, there's a strong chance you'll identify with this Italian black and white classic. Guido is a director that's working on his next movie. The problem is, he's not inspired. He's feeling lost and overwhelmed by the different pressures and stresses around him. His mind keeps going back to his past instead of appeasing the constant questions from the people around him. This film helps represent the many anxieties that come with making a movie, casting your actors and knowing what you want to transmit to the audience through your art. It's funny, enjoyable and insightful. A must-watch for creative minds. 

5. Eraserhead.

If I had to use only 2 words to describe David Lynch's Eraserhead, it would be: nightmare fuel. Henry Spencer is a factory worker on vacation that is invited to have dinner with Mary, a woman he had been dating recently, and her parents. There he learns that the reason behind the invitation is that Mary has just given birth to his child. They are both to marry and take care of their baby. Very much structured like a dream, this film isn't very much interested in giving us much plot or dialogue but making us feel what's going on...and that feeling is disturbing. The sound design is made to create unease. The visuals are often surprising, gory and grotesque, well within the realm of body horror. Interpretations abound for this black and white classic and giving it one definitive meaning would probably go against the director's intentions, but we can deduce that a lot of the symbolism has to do with the anxieties associated with an unwanted pregnancy and the responsibilities that arise from carrying to term and becoming a parent. If you want to explore more surrealist David Lynch films, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive should be on your list. 

6. Being John Malkovich.

Imagine working at an office building where your workstation is on the 7 1/2 floor; there you have to be hunched over because the ceiling is only five feet high. If that wasn't weird enough, there's a section of an office that has a portal that leads straight into actor John Malkovich's head. Written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich has a thoroughly entertaining and original premise in its exploration of consciousness. John Cusack's performance compels us to dislike his opportunistic and sleazy puppeteer character but the one that steals the show is without a doubt John Malkovich. He gets to flex his range and even pokes fun at his own acting career. This is the type of movie you can enjoy by trying to analyze and identify the hidden meanings or by just sitting back and letting the ridiculous plot guide you. 

7. Synecdoche, New York.

Continuing in Charlie Kaufman's wheelhouse, our following selection is his directorial debut: Synecdoche, New York. Caden Cotard is a theater director and is working on his next play. He just won an important grant and will be opening at Broadway once it's ready. He wants the play to be his magnum opus and so he keeps working and re-working the script, adding more and more characters, even himself, pouring his whole life into his creation as his relationships disintegrate and influence his ever-changing story. "I won't settle for anything less than the brutal truth...brutal..." As the thin line between the real world and the one within the play becomes more and more muddled, Kaufman makes us think about reality, illness, and death. His recent film I'm Thinking Of Ending Things touches on certain of the same themes and should be checked out as well. 

8. Long Day's Journey Into Night.

The next film on our list plays with the malleability of time and dreams, plunging us into a Tarkovsky or Lynch-like neo noir puzzle. Bi Gan's Long Day's Journey Into Night. The protagonist returns to his hometown after 12 years. There he searches for an old love interest as his memories merge with reality, his past, his present and with his dreams. Like with the director's other film Kaili Blues, this one is not for everyone. The slow pacing might be off putting for some but it's part of what gives the movie its dreamlike quality. That and the very long oner that lasts for most of the film's second half, further pressing us to question the authenticity of what we're seeing. On top of the technical skill involved in their making, Bi Gan's films have a way of sticking around in your mind long after you're done watching them. 

9. Persona.

For our next to last selection, we'll go with Ingmar Bergman's Persona. Elisabet is an actress that has suddenly become mute. While at the hospital, a young nurse named Alma is charged with looking after her. Although the actress is mostly unresponsive, Alma slowly gets through to her. They are set up at a cottage so that Alma can help Elisabet get better. Once there, the two women become closer to the point that their identities begin to overlap. This is a beautifully shot film with very little action happening but with so much to discover. Things aren't as straightforward as they seem and we are meant to realize that sometimes, we don't really know people as much as we think we do. Bergman's direction combined with the dual leads' performances give us plenty of layers to uncover. 

10. Paprika.

Last but certainly not least, the late Satoshi Kon's film that inspired Inception: Paprika. There are a few different plot points, so I'll remain a bit vague. Scientists have invented a device that allows people to record their dreams and even have other people share in the experience. The D.C. Mini. Unfortunately, one of the devices has been stolen and is being used to infect people's minds with an ever-growing and almost unescapable dream. The animation manages to do what would be very difficult to portray in live action: it shows the ever-changing quality of dreams, like how we transition from one moment to another or change appearance and still remain the same underneath. Whereas Inception had rules that gave dreams a more boots on the ground approach, Paprika fully embraces the absurdity of the subconscious, which gives us a beautiful yet unsettling result. By the way, if you enjoy Satoshi Kon's surreal style, we definitely recommend Paranoia Agent. It's a 13-episode classic anime that explores mass hysteria. 

That is it from today’s post on Top 10 Best Surreal Movies You Should Watch. If you do not agree with the points in the post and have some of your own opinions, share them with us in the comments section down below. 

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Chandan is the writer of “Top 10 Best Surreal Movies You Should Watch”. Also, Connect with me on Facebook.


Hey there! I'm Chandan and I'm from India. I'm a writer and youtuber. You can contact me at: pinterest

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