Rose Hobart (1936) by Joseph Cornell

Rose Hobart (1936) is a short, 19-minute surrealist film by artist Joseph Cornell. As described by Catherine Corman in her essay “Surrealist Astronomy in the South Pacific: Joseph Cornell and the Collaged Eclipse”:

Cornell had taken footage from the 1931 jungle adventure film East of Borneo, chopped it up, reordered it, and discarded the entire plot, focusing on the ambiguity of the characters’ emotions and the quivering, halting beauty of the starlet Rose Hobart. He disposed of traditional narrative; he cut out reaction shots, so we rarely know to whom Rose is speaking or to what she is reacting; he drew moments from different scenes together to happen in succession, sometimes adding in reversed clips with carefully calibrated eyeline matches as a further filmic trompe l’oeil; and he removed overtly upsetting scenes. He also made the film seem deliberately modest and worn.

Cornell projected the film through blue glass, slowing its speed to that of a silent film. He also replaced the original soundtrack with two songs from Nestor Amaral’s “Holiday in Brazil,” a record that he had found at a junk shop.

At the first screening of Joseph Cornell’s film Rose Hobart, in December 1936, Salvador Dalí knocked over the projector with his umbrella and screamed in Spanish, “Joseph Cornell, you are a plagiarist of my unconscious mind!” As it turned out, Dalí had an idea for a very similar film but had never told anyone. He was convinced that nothing like it existed anywhere but in his own mind, so the only way Cornell could have had the same idea was to have stolen it from Dalí’s unconscious.

SOURCE: Catherine Corman, “Surrealist Astronomy in the South Pacific: Joseph Cornell and the Collaged Eclipse,” East of Borneo (November 2010).