As the couple disappears along the horizon of the beach, an intertitle reads, “In springtime…” The film’s final shot shows the Woman and the First Man buried up to their torsos in sand, looking lifeless and in decay.
With the intertitle “In springtime...” (superimposed on the lovers as they walk into the horizon, framed by a large iris shot), the film has its last ironic intertitle, and its last ironic gesture. The intertitle suggests a happy or bucolic ending, perhaps for the lovers we have just seen walk off. Instead we see, in a single stationary shot, the woman and the first man (from whom we had been led to believe, by the previous scene, that she had escaped, his last remnants in tatters on the beach) buried up to their torsos in what is evidently desert sand—motionless, in decay, covered in debris, with the placid water of the immediately previous shots nowhere in sight.
Thus, just as the film appears to have multiple beginnings (first the prologue of the slicing of the Woman’s eye, then the scene of the First Man riding his bicycle), it also appears to have multiple endings. That is, three scenes in the film are structured in ways that would be appropriate to an ending, eliciting surprise when the film reopens: first, the scene in which the body of the Second Man is carried off in the park; second, the scene of the Woman and her lover walking off into the horizon; and, finally, the shot of the Woman and the First Man buried up to their torsos. Unlike in those other scenes (marked by movement out of the shots), the utter stillness of this shot suggests a kind of punctuation mark to the film.
Moreover, we can understand the film as bookended by two different scenes of trauma to the human body: the slicing of the eye, and burying of the two main characters. But whereas the first scene was dynamic, characterized by rapid movement, and the alarming movement of Buñuel’s blade, the final shot is, again, utterly static: suggesting that the film itself has been buried along with the First Man and the Woman. The topic of burial also recalls the topic of repression explored throughout the film, and how the film “repressed” or “buried” the original trauma of the first scene, only for its “memory” to return in various guises: such as other kinds of trauma and the image of the striped box.
Also, although the trauma of the first scene was gendered—with Buñuel performing an act of violence on the Woman, as a male magician might on the female subject—this final trauma suggests a kind of final equality between the Woman and the First Man: their trauma is exactly the same, inflicted upon them by forces unknown to us, their appearances exactly mirroring each other. This last shot also constitutes an ironic ending to their domestic conflict: with neither of them safe or triumphant, and both of them appearing defeated. It is as though, in their mutual defeat, they are both exhausted by the various traumas inflicted throughout the film.
The composition of this shot recalls that of many of Dalí’s paintings, particularly those that place contorted or deconstructed human bodies in empty spaces or deserts: such as William Tell (1930), The Invisible Man (1933), and Autumn Cannibalism (1936-37). Also, the depiction of violence, or remnants of violence, on sand anticipates the shot of remnants of a cannibal feast on the beach in Buñuel’s later adaptation of Robinson Crusoe (1954). Buñuel would later set an entire film in a desert landscape, in his Simon of the Desert (1965). And in a recent film about Sergei Eisenstein, the film essayist Mark Rappaport has noted similarities between the last shot of Un Chien Andalou and a shot of figures buried up to their torsos in Eisenstein’s unfinished film ¡Que Viva México!