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Luis Buñuel (1900 - 1983)

Related: European cinema - surrealist cinema - film - director

Worked with: Jeanne Moreau

Titles: Un Chien Andalou (1929) - L'Âge d'or (1930) - Diary of a Chambermaid (1965) - Belle de Jour (1967) - The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972) - Le Fantôme de la liberté - (1974) - That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)

Un Chien Andalou (1928) - Luis Buñuel [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Luis Buñuel (February 22, 1900 - July 29, 1983 Mexico City of liver cirrhosis) was a surrealist filmmaker and director whose most famous works include:

That Obscure Object of Desire, won Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film

Buñuel had a strict Jesuit education and went to university in Madrid. He was a very close friend of Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca, among other important Spanish artists that were living in the Residencia de Estudiantes. After that, he moved to Paris to do film-related work. His first movie, Un Chien Andalou (1929), put him into film history due to its shocking imagery, such as the slicing of a woman's eyeball.

He continued using this surreal imagery that found fertile ground in Mexico, famous are his scenes where chickens populate nightmares, women grow beards and aspiring saints are desiried by luscious women.

He married Jeanne Rucar in 1925. Buñuel became a Mexican citizen in 1948. His sons are film-maker Rafael Buñuel and Juan Luis Buñuel.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Bunuel [Oct 2004]

Key Inspirations

Despite Buñuel's geographically split career, strong continuities appear: all his films are marked by a fascination with Surrealism, especially in its exploration of the poetry of dreams, desire and amour fou, and imbued with a desire for release from childhood repression. The Surrealists, the Marquis De Sade —his "master"—along with major figures from Spanish culture (above all, the picaresque writers, Goya, Galdós and Valle-Inclán) were his key inspirations. At the same time, an early interest in Marxism prompted his repeated exposures of social injustice. Although in a sense sui generis, Buñuel's films are indebted to German Expressionism and Italian neo-realism as well as to popular Mexican and Spanish melodrama. His obsessions (religion, the bourgeoisie, marginalized individuals, sexual desire) are expressed in ways that explore the limits of experience without sacrificing tolerant understanding of human folly, though they are not always free from misogyny. Buñuel films, however, are graced with a distinctive brand of corrosive wit and sardonic humour. -— Peter W. Evans / Ginette Vincendeau,
Encylopedia of European Cinema


If there exists one persistently anti-clerical subversive in the cinema it surely is Bunuel; his continued insistence on this theme -- from L'Age d'Or to Nazarin, Viridiana, The Milky Way, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie -- dialectically indicates a continued invol- vement with his Jesuit childhood. The contemporary avant-garde, however, lacking the experience of a similar, intensely religious formative period, continues, with a few exceptions (Lethem, Marien, Nitsch), to be entirely unaffected by anti-clericalism. --THE ATTACK ON GOD: BLASPHEMY AND ANTI-CLERICALISM, Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

Luis Bunuel on the absurd

Bunuel believed reality is actually a smoke screen for hidden urges. He used the absurd to imply "an attack on specific abuses, not on some safely vague condition of man" (Durgnat 65). In Le Fantome de la Liberte Bunuel doubts not so much the possibility for society's redemption as its likelihood. "We have been rendered unwittingly comfortable within our psychic cages to the point where we prefer them to liberty, an experience and aspiration we neither understand or desire" (Mellen 331).

Profile by Bryan M. Papciak

"The thought of death has been familiar to me for a long time," says Director Luis Bunuel. "From the time that skeletons were carried through the streets of Calanda during the Holy Week procession, death has been an integral part of my life. I've never wished to forget or deny it, but there's not much to say about it when you're an atheist" (255). So reads an accurate testimonial to the personal and artistic sentiment of this odd and serious filmmaker. Like many of his contemporary surrealists, Bunuel is a paradox who on one hand claims apathy towards ultimate end, being, and Being, yet on the other hand loads his impressive body of work with moribund imagery and strange ideas about the God he so vociferously denies. Bunuel exhibits a radical, iconoclastic view of the world in which he finds society decadent and antithetical to human liberation. He has been called a realist, a surrealist, a Marxist, an anarchist, a mystic, an anticleric, a Freudian, a post-Freudian, a sadist, a moralist, a Christian, and a poet-showman of the macabre. His scenarios range from the absurd to the tragic to the satiric to the erotic, profusely endued with the outra-geous and the scandalous. --Bryan M. Papciak http://zakka.dk/euroscreenwriters/interviews/luis_bunuel_03.htm [Jun 2006]

The Exterminating Angel (1962) - Luis Buñuel

  • The Exterminating Angel (1962) - Luis Buñuel [Amazon.com]
    The Exterminating Angel is a brilliant movie. Luis Bunuel is one of the few directors to be able to create a completely fascinating world with seemingly mundane ideas. The film is about guests arriving at a dinner party and for various reasons are unable to leave. This simple, but interesting premise illustrates how we do not live our lives in any logical fashion and how the situations with which we are faced are what shape our world not anything as ridiculous as free will. For anyone who can see life as it really is and not brainwashed by our societies propoganda this is the most entertaining movie ever made about human nature. This is not a movie to take a date to it is one to be savored the rest of your life as you watch an innocent situation turn into the most thought provoking film you will ever see. The pace is slow, but in the hands of Bunuel it is also very entertaining and yes funny.

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