Spain (renounced in 1949) Mexico
Jeanne Rucar (1934–1983; his death)
LUIS BUñUEL PORTOLéS (Spanish pronunciation: ; 22 February 1900
– 29 July 1983) was a Spanish-born Mexican filmmaker who worked in
Spain, Mexico and France.
Luis Buñuel died at age 83, his obituary in the New York Times
called him "an iconoclast, moralist, and revolutionary who was a
leader of avant-garde surrealism in his youth and a dominant
international movie director half a century later". His first
Un Chien Andalou —made in the silent era —was called "the
most famous short film ever made" by critic
Roger Ebert , and his
That Obscure Object of Desire —made 48 years later—won
him Best Director awards from the
National Board of Review
National Board of Review and the
National Society of Film Critics . Writer
Octavio Paz called
Buñuel's work "the marriage of the film image to the poetic image,
creating a new reality...scandalous and subversive".
Often associated with the surrealist movement of the 1920s, Buñuel
created films from the 1920s through the 1970s. His work spans two
continents, three languages, and an array of genres, including
experimental film , documentary , melodrama , satire , musical ,
erotica , comedy , romance , costume dramas , fantasy , crime film ,
adventure , and western . Despite this variety, filmmaker John Huston
believed that, regardless of genre, a Buñuel film is so distinctive
as to be instantly recognizable, or, as
Ingmar Bergman put it,
"Buñuel nearly always made Buñuel films".
Six of Buñuel's films are included in Sight "> Calanda
Buñuel was born in Calanda , a small town in the province of Teruel
, in the
Aragon region of Spain, to Leonardo Buñuel, the cultivated
scion of an established Aragonese family, and María Portolés, many
years younger than her husband, with wealth and family connections of
her own. :pp.16–17 He would later describe his birthplace by saying
that in Calanda, "the
Middle Ages lasted until
World War I
World War I ". The
oldest of seven children, Luis had two brothers, Alfonso and Leonardo,
and four sisters: Alicia, Concepción, Margarita and María.
When Buñuel was four and a half months old, the family moved to
Zaragoza , where they were one of the wealthiest families in town.
:p.22 In Zaragoza, Buñuel received a strict Jesuit education at the
private Colegio del Salvador. :pp.23–36 After being kicked and
insulted by the study hall proctor before a final exam, Buñuel
refused to return to the school. He told his mother he had been
expelled, which was not true; in fact, he had received the highest
marks on his world history exam. Buñuel finished the last two years
of his high school education at the local public school. Even as a
child, Buñuel was something of a cinematic showman; friends from that
period described productions in which Buñuel would project shadows on
a screen using a magic lantern and a bedsheet. He also excelled at
boxing and playing the violin.
In his youth, Buñuel was deeply religious, serving at Mass and
taking Communion every day, until, at the age of 16, he grew disgusted
with what he perceived as the illogicality of the Church, along with
its power and wealth. :p.292
In 1917, he attended the University of
Madrid , first studying
agronomy then industrial engineering and finally switching to
philosophy . He developed a very close relationship with painter
Salvador Dalí and poet
Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca , among other important
Spanish creative artists living in the
Residencia de Estudiantes
Residencia de Estudiantes ,
with the three friends forming the nucleus of the Spanish Surrealist
avant-garde , and becoming known as members of "La Generación del 27
". Buñuel was especially taken with Lorca, later writing in his
autobiography: "We liked each other instantly. Although we seemed to
have little in common—I was a redneck from Aragon, and he an elegant
Andalusian—we spent most of our time together... We used to sit on
the grass in the evenings behind the Residencia (at that time, there
were vast open spaces reaching to the horizon), and he would read me
his poems. He read slowly and beautifully, and through him I began to
discover a wholly new world." :p.62 Buñuel's relationship with Dalí
was somewhat more troubled, being tinged with jealousy over the
growing intimacy between Dalí and Lorca and resentment over Dalí's
early success as an artist. :p.300
Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca
Since he was 17, he steadily dated the future poet and dramatist
Concha Méndez , with whom he vacationed every summer at San
Sebastián . He introduced her to his friends at the Residencia as his
fiancée. After five years, she broke off the relationship, citing
Buñuel's "insufferable character".
During his student years, Buñuel became an accomplished hypnotist.
He claimed that once, while calming a hysterical prostitute through
hypnotic suggestion, he inadvertently put one of the several
bystanders into a trance as well. :p.67 He was often to insist that
watching movies was a form of hypnosis: "This kind of cinematographic
hypnosis is no doubt due to the darkness of the theatre and to the
rapidly changing scenes, lights, and camera movements, which weaken
the spectator's critical intelligence and exercise over him a kind of
Buñuel's interest in films was intensified by a viewing of Fritz
Lang 's Der müde Tod : "I came out of the Vieux Colombier completely
transformed. Images could and did become for me the true means of
expression. I decided to devote myself to the cinema". At age 72,
Buñuel had not lost his enthusiasm for this film, asking the
octogenarian Lang for his autograph. :p.301
EARLY FRENCH PERIOD (1925–1930)
Jean Epstein , Buñuel's first film collaborator
In 1925 Buñuel moved to Paris, where he began work as a secretary in
an organization called the International Society of Intellectual
Cooperation. :p.124 He also became actively involved in cinema and
theater, going to the movies as often as three times a day. Through
these interests, he met a number of influential people, including the
Ricardo Viñes , who was instrumental in securing Buñuel's
selection as artistic director of the Dutch premiere of Manuel de
Falla 's puppet-opera
El retablo de maese Pedro
El retablo de maese Pedro in 1926. :p.29
He decided to enter the film industry and enrolled in a private film
school run by
Jean Epstein and some associates. At that time, Epstein
was one of the most celebrated commercial directors working in France,
his films being hailed as "the triumph of impressionism in motion, but
also the triumph of the modern spirit". Before long, Buñuel was
working for Epstein as an assistant director on Mauprat (1926) and La
chute de la maison Usher (1928), and also for Mario Nalpas on La
Sirène des Tropiques (1927), starring
Josephine Baker . He appeared
on screen in a small part as a smuggler in
Jacques Feyder 's Carmen
When Buñuel somewhat derisively refused to acquiesce to Epstein's
demand that he assist Epstein's mentor,
Abel Gance , who was at the
time working on the film Napoléon , Epstein dismissed him angrily,
saying "How can a little asshole like you dare to talk that way about
a great director like Gance?" :p.30 then added "You seem rather
surrealist. Beware of surrealists, they are crazy people."
After parting with Epstein, Buñuel worked as film critic for La
Gaceta Literaria (1927) and Les Cahiers d'Art (1928). :p.30 In the
periodicals L'Amic de les Arts and La gaseta de les Arts, he and Dalí
carried on a series of "call and response" essays on cinema and
theater, debating such technical issues as segmentation, découpage ,
"photogenia" (founded on the insert shot ) and rhythmic editing . He
also collaborated with the celebrated writer Ramón Gómez de la Serna
on the script for what he hoped would be his first film, "a story in
six scenes" called Los caprichos. :pp.30–31 Through his involvement
with Gaceta Literaria, he helped establish Madrid's first cine-club
and served as its inaugural chairman.
It was during this time that he met his future wife, Jeanne Rucar
Lefebvre, a gymnastics teacher who had won an Olympic bronze medal.
Buñuel courted her in a formal Aragonese manner, complete with a
chaperone, and they married in 1934 despite a warning by Jean
Epstein when Buñuel first proposed in 1930: "Jeanne, you are making a
mistake... It's not right for you, don't marry him." The two remained
married throughout his life and had two sons, Juan-Luis and Rafael.
Diego Buñuel , filmmaker and host of the National Geographic Channel
's Don\'t Tell My Mother series, is their grandson.
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
After this apprenticeship, Buñuel shot and directed a 16-minute
Un Chien Andalou , with
Salvador Dalí . The film, financed by
Buñuel's mother, consists of a series of startling images of a
Freudian nature, starting with a woman's eyeball being sliced open
with a razor blade.
Un Chien Andalou was enthusiastically received by
the burgeoning French surrealist movement of the time and continues
to be shown regularly in film societies to this day.
The script was written in six days at Dalí's home in
Cadaqués . In
a letter to a friend written in February 1929, Buñuel described the
writing process: "We had to look for the plot line. Dalí said to me,
'I dreamed last night of ants swarming around in my hands', and I
said, 'Good Lord, and I dreamed that I had sliced somebody or other's
eye. There's the film, let's go and make it.'" In deliberate contrast
to the approach taken by
Jean Epstein and his peers, which was to
never leave anything in their work to chance, with every aesthetic
decision having a rational explanation and fitting clearly into the
whole, Buñuel and Dalí made a cardinal point of eliminating all
logical associations. In Buñuel's words: "Our only rule was very
simple: no idea or image that might lend itself to a rational
explanation of any kind would be accepted. We had to open all doors to
the irrational and keep only those images that surprised us, without
trying to explain why". :p.104
André Breton 1924
Surrealism as: "Pure psychic automatism through which
it is intended to express, either orally or in writing, or in any
other way, the actual way thought works."
It was Buñuel's intention to shock and insult the intellectual
bourgeoisie of his youth, later saying: "Historically the film
represents a violent reaction against what in those days was called
'avant-garde,' which was aimed exclusively at artistic sensibility and
the audience's reason." Against his hopes and expectations, the film
was a huge success amongst the French bourgeoisie, leading Buñuel to
exclaim in exasperation, "What can I do about the people who adore all
that is new, even when it goes against their deepest convictions, or
about the insincere, corrupt press, and the inane herd that saw beauty
or poetry in something which was basically no more than a desperate
impassioned call for murder?"
Un Chien Andalou is a silent film , during the original
screening (attended by the elite of the Parisian art world), Buñuel
played a sequence of phonograph records which he switched manually
while keeping his pockets full of stones with which to pelt
anticipated hecklers. After the premiere, Buñuel and Dalí were
granted formal admittance to the tight-knit community of Surrealists,
led by poet
André Breton .
L\'Age D\'Or (1930)
Late in 1929, on the strength of Un Chien Andalou, Buñuel and Dalí
were commissioned to make another short film by Marie-Laurie and
Charles de Noailles , owners of a private cinema on the Place des
États-Unis and financial supporters of productions by Jacques Manuel,
Man Ray and
Pierre Chenal . :p.124 At first, the intent was that the
new film be around the same length as Un Chien, only this time with
sound. But by mid-1930, the film had grown segmentally to an hour's
duration. :p.116 Anxious that it was over twice as long as planned and
at double the budget, Buñuel offered to trim the film and cease
production, but Noailles gave him the go-ahead to continue the
The film, entitled L\'Age d\'Or , was begun as a second collaboration
with Dalí, but, while working on the scenario, the two had a falling
out; Buñuel, who at the time had strong leftist sympathies, desired
a deliberate undermining of all bourgeois institutions, while Dalí,
who eventually supported the Spanish nationalist dictator Francisco
Franco and various figures of the European aristocracy, wanted merely
to cause a scandal through the use of various scatological and
anti-Catholic images. The friction between them was exacerbated when,
at a dinner party in Cadaqués, Buñuel tried to throttle Dalí's
girlfriend, Gala , the wife of Surrealist poet
Paul Éluard . In
consequence, Dalí had nothing to do with the actual shooting of the
film. :pp.276–277 During the course of production, Buñuel worked
around his technical ignorance by filming mostly in sequence and using
nearly every foot of film that he shot. Buñuel invited friends and
acquaintances to appear, gratis, in the film; for example, anyone who
owned a tuxedo or a party frock got a part in the salon scene. :p.116
"A film called L'Age d'or, whose non-existent artistic quality is an
insult to any kind of technical standard, combines, as a public
spectacle, the most obscene, disgusting and tasteless incidents.
Country, family, and religion are dragged through the mud". Excerpt
from Richard Pierre Bodin's review in
Le Figaro , 7 December 1930.
L'Age d'Or was publicly proclaimed by Dalí as a deliberate attack on
Catholicism, and this precipitated a much larger scandal than Un Chien
Andalou. One early screening was taken over by members of the fascist
League of Patriots and the Anti-Jewish Youth Group, who hurled purple
ink at the screen and then vandalised the adjacent art gallery,
destroying a number of valuable surrealist paintings. The film was
banned by the Parisian police "in the name of public order". The de
Noailles, both Catholics, were threatened with excommunication by The
Vatican because of the film's blasphemous final scene (which visually
Jesus Christ with the writings of the
Marquis de Sade ), so they
made the decision in 1934 to withdraw all prints from circulation, and
L'Age d'Or was not seen again until 1979, after their deaths,
although a print was smuggled to England for private viewing. The
furor was so great that the premiere of another film financed by the
Jean Cocteau 's
The Blood of a Poet , had to be delayed
for over two years until outrage over
L'Age d'Or had died down. To
make matters worse,
Charles de Noailles was forced to withdraw his
membership from the Jockey Club .
Concurrent with the succès de scandale , both Buñuel and the film's
Lya Lys , received offers of interest from
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and traveled to Hollywood at the studio's expense.
While in the United States, Buñuel associated with other celebrity
Sergei Eisenstein ,
Josef Von Sternberg ,
Charles Chaplin and
Bertolt Brecht . All that was
required of Buñuel by his loose-ended contract with MGM was that he
"learn some good American technical skills", but, after being ushered
off the first set he visited because the star,
Greta Garbo , did not
welcome intruders, he decided to stay at home most of the time and
only show up to collect his paycheck. His only enduring contribution
to MGM came when he served as an extra in La Fruta Amarga, a
Spanish-language remake of
Min and Bill . When, after a few months at
the studio, he was asked to watch rushes of
Lili Damita to gauge her
Spanish accent, he refused and sent a message to studio boss Irving
Thalberg stating that he was there as a Frenchman, not a Spaniard, and
he "didn't have time to waste listening to one of the whores". :p.18
He was back in Spain shortly thereafter.
Spain in the early 1930s was a time of political and social
turbulence, a period of intense and bloody upheaval. Anarchists and
Radical Socialists sacked monarchist headquarters in
proceeded to set afire or otherwise wreck more than a dozen churches
in the capital while similar revolutionary acts occurred in a score of
other cities in southern and eastern Spain, in most cases with the
acquiescence and occasionally with the assistance of the official
Buñuel's future wife, Jeanne Rucar, recalled that during that
period, "he got very excited about politics and the ideas that were
everywhere in pre-Civil War Spain". In the first flush of his
enthusiasm, Buñuel joined the
Communist Party of Spain (PCE) in 1931
:pp.85–114 though later in life he denied becoming a Communist.
:p.72 An early scene from Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan depicts a
local wedding custom where the bridegroom tears the head off a rooster
suspended by its feet from a scaffold above the main street of town.
In 1932, Buñuel was invited to serve as film documentarian for the
celebrated Mission Dakar-Djibouti, the first large-scale French
anthropological field expedition, which, led by
Marcel Griaule ,
unearthed some 3,500 African artifacts for the new Musée de l\'Homme
. Although he declined, the project piqued his interest in
ethnography . After reading the academic study, Las Jurdes: étude de
géographie humaine (1927) by Maurice Legendre, he decided to make a
film focused on peasant life in
Extremadura , one of Spain's poorest
states. The film, called Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan (1933), was
financed on a budget of 20,000 pesetas donated by a working-class
anarchist friend named
Ramón Acín , who had won the money in a
lottery. In the film, Buñuel matches scenes of deplorable social
conditions with narration that resembles travelogue commentary
delivered by a detached-sounding announcer, while the soundtrack
thunders inappropriate music by Brahms . "Though the material is
organized with masterly skill, the very conception of 'art' here seems
irrelevant. It is the most profoundly disturbing film I have ever
seen." Award-winning film director
Tony Richardson on Las Hurdes:
Tierra Sin Pan
Las Hurdes was banned by three successive Republican governments,
definitively by Franco when he came to power. It is a film which
continues to perplex viewers and resists easy categorization by film
Las Hurdes has been called one of the first examples of
mockumentary , and has been labeled a "surrealist documentary", a
term defined by critic Mercè Ibarz as "A multi-layered and unnerving
use of sound, the juxtaposition of narrative forms already learnt from
the written press, travelogues and new pedagogic methods, as well as a
subversive use of photographed and filmed documents understood as a
basis for contemporary propaganda for the masses". Catherine Russell
has stated that in Las Hurdes, Buñuel was able to reconcile his
political philosophy with his surrealist aesthetic, with surrealism
becoming, "a means of awakening a marxist materialism in danger of
becoming a stale orthodoxy."
Las Hurdes in 1933, Buñuel worked in Paris in the dubbing
Paramount Pictures , but following his marriage in 1934,
he switched to
Warner Brothers because they operated dubbing studios
in Madrid. :p.39 A friend, Ricardo Urgoiti, who owned the commercial
film company Filmófono, invited Buñuel to produce films for a mass
audience. He accepted the offer, viewing it as an "experiment" as he
knew the film industry in Spain was still far behind the technical
level of Hollywood or Paris. :p.56 According to film historian Manuel
Rotellar's interviews with members of the cast and crew of the
Filmófono studios, Buñuel's only condition was that his involvement
with these pictures be completely anonymous, apparently for fear of
damaging his reputation as a surrealist. Rotellar insists, however,
"the truth is that it was
Luis Buñuel who directed the Filmófono
José Luis Sáenz de Heredia , the titular
director of two of the films created during Buñuel's years as
"executive producer" at Filmófono, recounted that it was Buñuel who
"explained to me every morning what he wanted...We looked at the takes
together and it was Buñuel who chose the shots, and in editing, I
wasn't even allowed to be present." :p.39 Of the 18 films produced by
Buñuel during his years at Filmófono, the four that are believed by
critical consensus to have been directed by him are:
* Don Quintín el amargao (Don Quintin the Sourpuss), 1935 – a
musical based on a play by
Carlos Arniches , the first zarzuela (a
type of Spanish opera) filmed in sound.
La hija de Juan Simón
La hija de Juan Simón (Juan Simón's Daughter), 1935 – another
musical and a major commercial success
* ¿Quién me quiere a mí? (Who Loves Me?), 1936 – a sentimental
comedy that Buñuel called "my only commercial failure, and a pretty
dismal one at that." :p.144
* ¡Centinela, alerta!, (Sentry, Keep Watch!), 1937 – a comedy and
Filmófono's biggest box-office hit.
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), Buñuel placed himself at
the disposal of the Republican government. :p.255 The minister for
foreign affairs sent him first to
Geneva and then to Paris for two
years, with official responsibility for cataloging Republican
propaganda films. :p.6 Besides the cataloguing, Buñuel took left-wing
tracts to Spain, did some occasional spying, acted as a bodyguard, and
supervised the making of a documentary, entitled España 1936 in
France and Espana leal, ¡en armas! in Spain, that covered the
elections, the parades, the riots, and the war. In August 1936,
Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca was shot and killed by Nationalist militia.
According to his son, Juan Luis, Buñuel rarely talked about Lorca but
mourned the poet's untimely death throughout his life.
Buñuel essentially functioned as the coordinator of film propaganda
for the Republic, which meant that he was in a position to examine all
film shot in the country and decide what sequences could be developed
and distributed abroad. The Spanish Ambassador suggested that Buñuel
revisit Hollywood where he could give technical advice on films being
made there about the Spanish Civil War, :p.6 so in 1938, he and his
family traveled to the United States using funds obtained from his old
patrons, the Noailles. Almost immediately upon his arrival in
America, however, the war ended and the Motion Picture Producers and
Distributors Association of America discontinued making films on the
Spanish conflict. According to Buñuel's wife, returning to Spain was
impossible since the Fascists had seized power, :p.63–64 so Buñuel
decided to stay in the U.S. indefinitely, stating that he was
"immensely attracted by the American naturalness and sociability."
UNITED STATES (1938–1945)
Museum of Modern Art, 1943
Returning to Hollywood in 1938, he was befriended by Frank Davis, an
MGM producer and member of the
Communist Party USA , :p.349 who placed
Buñuel on the payroll of Cargo of Innocence, a film about Spanish
refugee mothers and children fleeing from
Bilbao to the USSR. The
project was shelved precipitately when another Hollywood film about
the Spanish Civil War, Blockade , was met with disfavor by the
Catholic League of Decency . In the words of biographer Ruth Brandon,
Buñuel and his family "lived from one unsatisfactory crumb of work to
another" because he "had none of the arrogance and pushiness essential
for survival in Hollywood." :p.358 He just wasn't flamboyant enough to
capture the attention of Hollywood decision makers, in the opinion of
George Antheil : "Inasmuch as , his wife and his little
boy seemed to be such absolutely normal, solid persons, as totally
un-Surrealist in the Dalí tradition as one could possibly imagine."
:p.172 For the most part, he was snubbed by many of the people in the
film community whom he met during his first trip to America, although
he was able to sell some gags to Chaplin for his film The Great
Dictator . :p.213
In desperation, to market himself to independent producers, he
composed a 21-page autobiography, a section of which, headed "My
Present Plans", outlined proposals for two documentary films:
* "The Primitive Man", which would depict "the terrible struggle of
primitive man against a hostile universe, how the world appeared, how
they saw it, what ideas they had on love, on death, on fraternity, how
and why religion is born",
* "Psycho-Pathology", which would "expose the origin and development
of different psychopathic diseases... Such a documental film, apart
from its great scientific interest, could depict on screen a New Form
of Terror or its synonym Humour." :p.257
Nobody showed any interest and Buñuel realized that staying in Los
Angeles was futile, so he traveled to New York to see if he could
change his fortunes. :p.174 "
Luis Buñuel was there, with his
thyroid eyes, the moles on his chin which I remember from so long ago
when we first saw the surrealist films in the Cinémathèque ,... and
as he talked I remember thinking that his paleness was most
appropriate for someone who spent his life in dark projection rooms...
He has a sharp humor, a bitter sarcasm, and at the same time towards
women a gentle, special smile".
Anaïs Nin , in her diary entry on
encountering Buñuel when he was working at MoMA
In New York, Antheil introduced Buñuel to
Iris Barry , chief curator
of film at the
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). :p.360 Barry talked
Buñuel into joining a committee formed to help educate those within
the U.S. government who might not have appreciated fully the
effectiveness of film as a medium of propaganda. Buñuel was hired to
produce a shortened version of
Leni Riefenstahl 's Triumph of the Will
(1935) as a demonstration project. The finished product was a
compilation of scenes from Riefenstahl's Nazi epic with Hans Bertram
's Feuertaufe. :p.58 Buñuel stayed at MoMA to work for the Office of
the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA) as part of a
production team that would gather, review and edit films intended as
anti-fascist propaganda to be distributed in
Latin America by American
embassies. :p.72 While being vetted for the job at the OCIAA, upon
being asked if he was a Communist, he replied: "I am a Republican,"
and, apparently, the interviewer did not realize that Buñuel was
referring to the Spanish socialist coalition government, not the
American political party. :p.180 Describing Buñuel's work at MoMA,
his friend, composer Gustavo Pittaluga, stated: "Luis created maybe
2,000 remarkable works. We were sent anodyne documentaries, often
extremely feeble primary materials, which the Museum team turned into
marvellous films. And not just Spanish versions, but also Portuguese,
French and English... He would create a good documentary through
In 1942, Buñuel applied for American citizenship, because he
anticipated that MoMA would soon be put under federal control. :p.183
But that same year, Dalí published his autobiography, The Secret Life
Salvador Dalí , in which he made it clear that he had split with
Buñuel because the latter was a Communist and an atheist . News of
this reached Archbishop Spellman , who angrily confronted Barry with
the question: "Are you aware that you are harbouring in this Museum
the Antichrist, the man who made a blasphemous film L'Age d'Or?"
:p.214 At the same time, a campaign on the part of Hollywood, through
its industry trade paper, the
Motion Picture Herald , to undermine the
MoMA film unit resulted in a 66% reduction in the department's budget
and Buñuel felt himself compelled to resign. In 1944, he returned to
Hollywood for the third time, this time as Spanish Dubbing Producer
Warner Brothers . :p.190 Before leaving New York, he confronted
Dalí at his hotel, the Sherry Netherland , to tell the painter about
the damage his book had done and then shoot him in the knee. Buñuel
did not carry out the violent part of his plan. Dalí explained
himself by saying: "I did not write my book to put YOU on a pedestal.
I wrote it to put ME on a pedestal".
Man Ray – a friend from
Buñuel's surrealist period and collaborator on unrealized Hollywood
Buñuel's first dubbing assignment on returning to Hollywood was My
Reputation , a
Barbara Stanwyck picture which became El Que Diran in
Buñuel's hands. :p.190 In addition to his dubbing work, Buñuel
attempted to develop a number of independent projects:
* In collaboration with an old friend from his Surrealist days, Man
Ray , he worked on a scenario called The Sewers of Los Angeles, which
took place on a mountain of excrement close to a highway and a dust
* With his friend,
José Rubia Barcia , he co-wrote a screenplay
called La novia de medianoche (The Midnight Bride), a gothic thriller,
which lay dormant until it was filmed by Antonio Simón in 1997.
* He continued working on a screenplay called "Goya and the Duchess
of Alba", a treatment he had started as early as 1927, with the
Florián Rey and cameraman
José María Beltrán , and
then resuscitated in 1937 as a project for Paramount.
* In his 1982 autobiography Mon Dernier soupir (My Last Sigh, 1983),
Buñuel wrote that at the request of director
Robert Florey , he
submitted a treatment of a scene about a disembodied hand, which was
later included in the movie
The Beast with Five Fingers
The Beast with Five Fingers (1946),
Peter Lorre , without acknowledgement of Buñuel's
contribution or payment of any compensation. :p.189 However, Brian
Taves, film scholar and archivist with the
Library of Congress , has
challenged the truth of this claim.
In 1945, Buñuel's contract with
Warner Brothers expired, and he
decided not to renew it in order, as he put it: "to realize my life's
ambition for a year: to do nothing". While his family enjoyed
themselves at the beach, Buñuel spent much of his time in Antelope
Valley with new acquaintances writer
Aldous Huxley and sculptor
Alexander Calder , from whom he rented a house. :p.130
In his autobiography, in a chapter about his second spell in America,
Buñuel states that "n several occasions, both American and European
producers have suggested that I tackle a film version of Malcolm Lowry
Under the Volcano
Under the Volcano ". :p.194 He says that he read the book many
times as well as eight different screenplays but was unable to come up
with a solution for the cinema. The movie was eventually made in 1984
John Huston .
INTERMEDIATE YEARS (1946–1961)
The following year, an old friend, producer Denise Tual , the widow
Pierre Batcheff , the leading man in Un Chien Andalou, proposed
that she and Buñuel adapt Lorca's play, La casa de Bernarda Alba ,
for production in Paris. As it turned out, though, before they could
both make their way to Europe, they encountered problems in securing
the rights from Lorca's family. :p.21 While in Mexico City, on a
stopover, they had asked Óscar Dancigers, a Russian émigré producer
active in Mexico, for financing. Dancigers ran an independent
production company that specialized in assisting U.S. film studios
with on-location shooting in Mexico, but following World War II, he
had lost his connection with Hollywood due to his being blacklisted as
a Communist. :p.73 Although Dancigers wasn't enthusiastic about the
Lorca project, he did want to work with Buñuel and persuaded the
Spanish director to make a film for him. :p.197 Libertad
Lamarque, star of Buñuel's first Mexican film. Buñuel was said to
have held a long-time grudge against Lamarque because the actress was
able to bring him to tears when he viewed a "corny melodrama" which
she had made in Argentina: "How could I let myself cry over such an
absurd, grotesque, ridiculous scene?" :p.147
The "Golden Age" of Mexican cinema was peaking in the mid-to-late
1940s, at just the time Buñuel was connecting with Dancigers. Movies
represented Mexico's third largest industry by 1947, employing 32,000
workers, with 72 film producers who invested 66 million pesos
(approximately U.S. $13 million) per year, four active studios with 40
million pesos of invested capital, and approximately 1,500 theaters
throughout the nation, with about 200 in
Mexico City alone. For their
first project, the two men selected what seemed like a sure-fire
Gran Casino , a musical period piece set in
the boom years of oil exploitation, starring two of the most popular
entertainers in Latin America:
Libertad Lamarque , an Argentine
actress and singer, and
Jorge Negrete , a Mexican singer and leading
man in "charro" films . :p.64 Buñuel recalled: "I kept them singing
all the time—a competition, a championship". :pp.130–131
The film was not successful at the box office, with some even calling
it a fiasco. Different reasons have been given for its failure with
the public; for some, Buñuel was forced to make concessions to the
bad taste of his stars, particularly Negrete, others cite Buñuel's
rusty technical skills and lack of confidence after so many years
out of the director's chair, while still others speculate that
Mexican audiences were tiring of genre movies, called "churros", that
were perceived as being cheaply and hastily made. :p.48
The failure of
Gran Casino sidelined Buñuel, and it was over two
years before he had the chance to direct another picture. According
to Buñuel, he spent this time "scratching my nose, watching flies and
living off my mother's money", :p.199 but he was actually somewhat
more industrious than that may sound. With the husband/wife team of
Luis Alcoriza , he wrote the scenario for Si usted no puede,
yo sí, which was filmed in 1950 by
Julián Soler . :p.203 He also
continued developing the idea for a surrealistic film called Ilegible,
hijo de flauta, with the poet Juan Larrea . Dancigers pointed out to
him that there was currently a vogue for films about street urchins,
so Buñuel scoured the back streets and slums of
Mexico City in search
of material, interviewing social workers about street gang warfare and
murdered children. :pp.203–204
During this period, Dancigers was busy producing films for the
Fernando Soler , one of the most durable of Mexican
film personalities, having been referred to as the "national
paterfamilias". Although Soler typically preferred to direct his own
films, for their latest collaboration,
El Gran Calavera , based on a
play by Adolfo Torrado, he decided that doing both jobs would be too
much trouble, so he asked Dancigers to find someone who could be
trusted to handle the technical aspects of the directorial duties.
Buñuel welcomed the opportunity, stating that: "I amused myself with
the montage, the constructions, the angles... All of that interested
me because I was still an apprentice in so-called 'normal' cinema."
As a result of his work on this film, he developed a technique for
making films cheaply and quickly by limiting them to 125 shots. :p.73
El Gran Calavera was completed in 16 days at a cost of 400,000 pesos
(approximately $46,000 US at 1948 exchange rates). :p.52 The picture
has been described as "a hilarious screwball send-up of the Mexican
nouveau riche ... a wild roller coaster of mistaken identity, sham
marriages and misfired suicides", and it was a big hit at the box
office in Mexico. In 2013, the picture was re-made by Mexican
director Gary Alazraki under the title
The Noble Family . In 1949,
Buñuel renounced his Spanish citizenship to become a naturalized
The commercial success of
El Gran Calavera enabled Buñuel to redeem
a promise he had extracted from Dancigers, which was that if Buñuel
could deliver a money-maker, Dancigers would guarantee "a degree of
freedom" on the next film project. Knowing that Dancigers was
uncomfortable with experimentalism, especially when it might affect
the bottom line, Buñuel proposed a commercial project titled ¡Mi
huerfanito jefe!, about a juvenile street vendor who can't sell his
final lottery ticket, which ends up being the winner and making him
rich. Dancigers was open to the idea, but instead of a "feuilleton ",
he suggested making "something rather more serious". :p.60 During his
recent researches through the slums of Mexico City, Buñuel had read a
newspaper account of a twelve-year-old boy's body being found on a
garbage dump, and this became the inspiration, and final scene, for
the film, called
Los olvidados . :pp.53–54 "The world doesn't work
like Hollywood told us it does, and Buñuel knew well that poverty's
truths could not be window-dressed in any way. This film continues to
provoke reactions for its unapologetic portrayal of life without hope
or trust. It stands out among Buñuel's works as the moment when he
broke surface and bellowed, before sinking back into the world of the
privileged where his surreal view most loved to play. Booker Prize
DBC Pierre on
The film tells the story of a street gang of children who terrorize
their impoverished neighborhood, at one point brutalizing a blind man
and at another assaulting a legless man who moves around on a dolly,
which they toss down a hill. Film historian Carl J. Mora has said of
Los olvidados that the director: "visualized poverty in a radically
different way from the traditional forms of Mexican melodrama.
Buñuel's street children are not 'ennobled' by their desperate
struggle for survival; they are in fact ruthless predators who are not
better than their equally unromanticized victims". :p.91 The film was
made quickly (18 days) and cheaply (450,000 pesos), with Buñuel's fee
being the equivalent of $2,000. :pp.210–211 During filming, a number
of members of the crew resisted the production in a variety of ways:
one technician confronted Buñuel and asked why he didn't make a
"real" Mexican movie "rather than a miserable picture like this one",
:p.200 the film's hairdresser quit on the spot over a scene in which
the protagonist's mother refuses to give him food ("In Mexico, no
mother would say that to her son."), :p.99 another staff member urged
Buñuel to abandon shooting on a "garbage heap", noting that there
were many "lovely residential neighborhoods like Las Lomas " that were
available, :p.99 while Pedro de Urdimalas, one of the scriptwriters,
refused to allow his name in the credits. Octavio Paz, ardent
Los olvidados and close friend during Buñuel's exile in
This hostility was also felt by those who attended the movie's
Mexico City on 9 November 1950, when
Los olvidados was
taken by many as an insult to Mexican sensibilities and to the Mexican
nation. :p.67 At one point, the audience shrieked in shock as one of
the characters looked straight into the camera and hurled a rotten egg
at it, leaving a gelatinous, opaque ooze on the lens for a few
moments. In his memoir, Buñuel recalled that after the initial
Diego Rivera 's wife refused to speak to him, while
León Felipe 's wife had to be restrained physically from
attacking him. :pp.200–201 There were even calls to have Buñuel's
Mexican citizenship revoked. :p.61 Dancigers, panicked by what he
feared would be a complete debacle, quickly commissioned an alternate
"happy" ending to the film, and also tacked on a preface showing
stock footage of the skylines of New York, London and Paris with
voice-over commentary to the effect that behind the wealth of all the
great cities of the world can be found poverty and malnourished
children, and that
Mexico City "that large modern city, is no
exception". Regardless, attendance was so poor that Dancigers
withdrew the film after only three days in theaters.
Through the determined efforts of future
Nobel Prize winner for
Octavio Paz , who at the time was in Mexico's diplomatic
Los olvidados was chosen to represent Mexico at the Cannes
Film Festival of 1951, and Paz promoted the film assiduously by
distributing a supportive manifesto and parading outside the cinema
with a placard. Opinion in general was enthusiastic, with the
Surrealists (Breton and poet
Jacques Prevert ) and other artistic
Marc Chagall and poet/dramatist/filmmaker Jean
Cocteau ) laudatory, but the communists objected to what they saw as
the film's "bourgeois morality" for containing a scene in which the
police stop a pederast from assaulting a child. Buñuel won the Best
Director prize that year at Cannes, and also won the FIPRESCI
International Critics\' Award . After receiving these accolades, the
film was reissued in Mexico where it ran for two months to much
greater acceptance and profit.
Los olvidados and its triumph at
Cannes made Buñuel an instant world celebrity and the most important
Spanish-speaking film director in the world. In 2003, Los olvidados
was recommended by
UNESCO for inclusion in the Memory of the World
Register , calling it: "the most important document in Spanish about
the marginal lives of children in contemporary large cities". "Here
in Mexico, I have become a professional in the film world. Until I
came here I made a film the way a writer makes a book, and on my
friends' money at that. I am very grateful and happy to have lived in
Mexico, and I have been able to make my films here in a way I could
not have in any other country in the world. It is quite true that in
the beginning, caught up by necessity, I was forced to make cheap
films. But I never made a film which went against my conscience or my
convictions. I have never made a superficial, uninteresting film."
Luis Buñuel on his mid-century career in Mexico.
Buñuel remained in Mexico for the rest of his life, although he
spent periods of time filming in France and Spain. In Mexico, he
filmed 21 films during an 18-year period. For many critics, although
there were occasional widely acknowledged masterpieces like Los
olvidados and Él (1953), the majority of his output consisted of
generic fare which was adapted to the norms of the national film
industry, frequently adopting melodramatic conventions that appealed
to local tastes. Other commentators, however, have written of the
deceptive complexity and intensity of many of these films, arguing
that, collectively, they, "bring a philosophical depth and power to
his cinema, together offering a sustained meditation on ideas of
religion, class inequity, violence and desire." Although Buñuel
usually had little choice regarding the selection of these projects,
they often deal with themes that were central to his lifelong
* sexual pathology: Él (1953),
Ensayo de un crimen (1955), and
Abismos de pasión (1954)
* the destructive effects of rampant machismo :
El Bruto , (1953),
El río y la muerte , (1955);
* the blurring of fantasy and reality:
Subida al cielo (1952), La
ilusión viaja en tranvía (1954);
* the disruptive status of women in a male-dominated culture:
La hija del engaño (1951—a remake of the Filmófono
production Don Quintín el amargao of 16 years earlier), Una mujer
sin amor (1952); and
* the absurdity of the religious life: :pp.118–19
Simón del desierto
Simón del desierto (1965).
As busy as he was during the 1950s and early 1960s, there were still
many film projects that Buñuel had to abandon due to lack of
financing or studio support, including a cherished plan to film
Juan Rulfo 's
Pedro Páramo , of which he said how
much he enjoyed "the crossing from the mysterious to the real, almost
without transition. I really like this mixture of reality and fantasy,
but I don't know how to bring it to the screen." Other unrealized
projects during his lifetime included adaptations of
André Gide 's
Les caves du Vatican;
Benito Pérez Galdós 's
Fortunata y Jacinta ,
Doña Perfecta , and Ángel Guerra;
Evelyn Waugh 's
The Loved One ;
William Golding 's
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies ;
Dalton Trumbo 's Johnny Got His
J. K. Huysmans ' Là-Bas ; Matthew Lewis 's
The Monk ; José
Donoso 's Lugar sin límites ; a film of four stories based on Carlos
Fuentes 's Aura ; and
Julio Cortázar 's Las ménades . :p.96 Some of
these adaptations were later used by following directors.
Mexico And Beyond: Return To International Filmmaking (1954–1960)
As much as he welcomed steady employment in the Mexican film
industry, Buñuel was quick to seize opportunities to re-emerge onto
the international film scene and to engage with themes that were not
necessarily focused on Mexican preoccupations. :p.144 His first chance
came in 1954, when Dancigers partnered with Henry F. Ehrlich, of
United Artists , to co-produce a film version of
Daniel Defoe 's
Robinson Crusoe , using a script developed by the Canadian writer Hugo
Butler . The film was produced by George Pepper, the former executive
secretary of the Hollywood Democratic Committee. Both Butler and
Pepper were emigres from Hollywood who had run afoul of authorities
seeking out communists. :p.75 The result, Adventures of Robinson
Crusoe , was Buñuel's first color film. Buñuel was given much more
time than usual for the filming (three months), which was accomplished
on location in Manzanillo, a Pacific seaport with a lush jungle
interior, and was shot simultaneously in English and Spanish. When
the film was released in the United States, its young star Dan
O\'Herlihy used his own money to fund a Los Angeles run for the film
and gave free admission to all members of the
Screen Actors Guild ,
who in turn rewarded the little-known actor with his only Oscar
Gérard Philipe , popular French star of Buñuel's
La Fièvre Monte à El Pao . At one point during the filming, Buñuel
asked Philipe, who was visibly dying of cancer, why the actor was
making this film, and Philipe responded by asking the director the
same question, to which both said they didn't know.
In the mid-1950s, Buñuel got the chance to work again in France on
international co-productions. The result was what critic Raymond
Durgnat has called the director's "revolutionary triptych", in that
each of the three films is "openly, or by implication, a study in the
morality and tactics of armed revolution against a right-wing
dictatorship." :p.100 The first, Cela s\'appelle l\'aurore
(Franco-Italian, 1956) required Buñuel and the "pataphysical" writer
Jean Ferry to adapt a novel by
Emmanuel Roblès after the celebrated
Jean Genet failed to deliver a script after having been paid in
full. :p.100 The second film was La Mort en ce jardin (Franco-Mexican,
1956), which was adapted by Buñuel and his frequent collaborator Luis
Alcoriza from a novel by the Belgian writer
José-André Lacour . The
final part of the "triptych" was La Fièvre Monte à El Pao
(Franco-Mexican, 1959), the last film of the popular French star
Gérard Philipe , who died in the final stages of the production.
Buñuel was later to explain that he was so strapped for cash that he,
"took everything that was offered to me, as long as it wasn't
In 1960, Buñuel re-teamed with scenarist
Hugo Butler and organizer
George Pepper, allegedly his favorite producer, to make his second
English-language film, a US/Mexico co-production called The Young One
, based on a short story by writer and former CIA-agent Peter
Matthiessen . This film has been called "a surprisingly
uncompromising study of racism and sexual desire, set on a remote
island in the Deep South" and has been described by critic Ed
Gonzalez as, "salacious enough to make
Elia Kazan 's
Baby Doll and
Luis Malle\'s Pretty Baby blush." Although the film won a special
award at the
Cannes Film Festival for its treatment of racial
discrimination, :p.151 the US critics were so hostile upon its release
that Buñuel was later to say that, "a Harlem newspaper even wrote
that I should be hung upside down from a lamppost on Fifth Avenue….I
made this film with love, but it never had a chance." In the words of
film historian Peter Harcourt: "if
The Young One must still be
considered a 'bad' film by conventional standards, then it is one of
the most subtle, most challenging and most distinguished bad films
LATE INTERNATIONAL PERIOD (1961–1977)
At the 1960 Cannes Festival, Buñuel was approached by the young
Carlos Saura , whose film Los Golfos had been entered
officially to represent Spain. Two years earlier, Saura had partnered
Juan Antonio Bardem and
Luis García Berlanga to form a
production company called UNINCI, and the group was keen to get
Buñuel to make a new film in his native country as part of their
overall goal of creating a uniquely Spanish brand of cinema.
:p.190–91 At the same time, Mexican actress
Silvia Pinal was eager
to work with Buñuel and talked her producer-husband Gustavo Alatriste
into providing additional funding for the project with the
understanding that the director, who Pinal described as "a man
worshiped and idolized", would be given "absolute freedom" in carrying
out the work. Finally, Buñuel agreed to work again in Spain when
further support was provided by producer
Pere Portabella 's company
Buñuel and his co-scenarist
Julio Alejandro drafted a preliminary
Viridiana , which critic
Andrew Sarris has described as
incorporating "a plot which is almost too lurid to synopsize even in
these enlightened times", dealing with rape, incest, hints of
necrophilia, animal cruelty and sacrilege, and dutifully submitted it
to the Spanish censor, who, to the surprise of nearly everyone,
approved it after requesting only minor modifications and one
significant change to the ending. Although Buñuel accommodated the
censor's demands, he came up with a final scene that was even more
provocative than the scene it replaced: "even more immoral", as
Buñuel was later to observe. Since Buñuel had more than adequate
resources, top-flight technical and artistic crews, and experienced
actors, filming of
Viridiana (which took place on location and at
Bardem's studios in Madrid) went smoothly and quickly. :p. 98
Buñuel submitted a cutting copy to the censors and then arranged for
his son, Juan-Luis, to smuggle the negatives to Paris for the final
editing and mixing, ensuring that the authorities would not have an
opportunity to view the finished product before its planned submission
as Spain's official entry to the 1961 Cannes Festival. Spain's
director general of cinematography José Munoz-Fontan presented the
film on the last day of the festival and then, on the urging of
Portabella and Bardem, appeared in person to accept the top prize, the
Palme d\'Or , which the film shared with the French entry Une aussi
longue absence , directed by
Henri Colpi . Within days,
l\'Osservatore Romano , the Vatican's official organ, denounced the
film as an insult not only to Catholicism but to Christianity in
general. Consequences to nearly all concerned were swift:
Munoz-Fontan was cashiered from his government post, the film was
banned in Spain for the next 17 years, all mention of it in the press
was prohibited, and the two Spanish production companies UNINCI and
Film 59 were disbanded. "When today I amuse myself by making
useless calculations, I realize that Buñuel and I shared more than
two thousand meals together and that on more than fifteen hundred
occasions he knocked on my door, notes in hand, ready to begin work.
I'm not even counting the walks, the drinks, the films we watched
together, the film festivals." –
Jean-Claude Carrière on his
long-term collaboration with Buñuel.
Buñuel went on to make two more films in Mexico with Pinal and
El ángel exterminador
El ángel exterminador (1962) and Simón del desierto
(1965)— along with Viridiana, they form the so-called "Buñuelian
trilogy" — and was later to say that Alatriste had been the one
producer who gave him the most freedom in creative expression. Pinal
was keenly interested in continuing to work with Buñuel, trusting him
completely and frequently stating that he brought out the best in her.
In 1963, actor
Fernando Rey , one of the stars of Viridiana,
introduced Buñuel to producer
Serge Silberman , a Polish entrepreneur
who had fled to Paris when his family died in the Holocaust and had
worked with several renowned French directors, including Jean-Pierre
Jacques Becker ,
Marcel Camus and
Silberman proposed that the two make an adaptation of Octave Mirbeau
's Journal d\'une femme de chambre , which Buñuel had read several
times. Buñuel wanted to do the filming in Mexico with Pinal, but
Silberman insisted it be done in France.
Pinal was so determined to work again with Buñuel that she was ready
to move to France, learn the language and even work for nothing in
order to get the part of Célestine , the title character. Silberman,
however, wanted French actress
Jeanne Moreau to play the role, so he
put Pinal off by telling her that Moreau, too, was willing to act with
no fee. Ultimately, Silberman got his way, leaving Pinal so
disappointed that she was later to claim that Alatriste's failure to
help her secure this part led to the breakup of their marriage. When
Buñuel requested a French-speaking writer with whom to collaborate on
the screenplay, Silberman suggested the 32-year-old Jean-Claude
Carrière , an actor whose previous screenwriting credits included
only a few films for the comic star/director
Pierre Étaix , but once
Buñuel learned that Carrière was the scion of a wine-growing family,
the newcomer was hired on the spot. At first, Carrière found it
difficult to work with Buñuel, because the young man was so
deferential to the famous director that he never challenged any of
Buñuel's ideas, until, at Buñuel's covert insistence, Silberman told
Carrière to stand up to Buñuel now and then; as Carrière was later
to say: "In a way, Buñuel needed an opponent. He didn't need a
secretary – he needed someone to contradict him and oppose him and
to make suggestions." The finished 1964 film, Diary of a Chambermaid
, became the first of several to be made by the team of Buñuel,
Carrière and Silberman. Carrière was later to say: "Without me and
without Serge Silberman, the producer, perhaps Buñuel would not have
made so many films after he was 65. We really encouraged him to work.
That's for sure." This was the second attempt to film Mirbeau's
novel, the first being a 1946 Hollywood production directed by Jean
Renoir , which Buñuel refused to view for fear of being influenced by
the famous French director, whom he venerated. Buñuel's version,
while admired by many, has often been compared unfavorably to
Renoir's, with a number of critics claiming that Renoir's Diary fits
better in Renoir's overall oeuvre, while Buñuel's Diary is not
After the 1964 release of Diary, Buñuel again tried to make a film
of Matthew Lewis'
The Monk , a project on which he had worked, on and
off, since 1938, according to producer
Pierre Braunberger . :p.137 He
and Carrière wrote a screenplay, but were unable to obtain funding
for the project, which would be finally realized in 1973 under the
direction of Buñuel devotee Ado Kyrou , with considerable assistance
from both Buñuel and Carrière.
In 1965, Buñuel manage to work again with Sylvia Pinal in what would
turn out to be his last Mexican feature, co-starring Claudio Brook,
Simón del desierto
Simón del desierto . Pinal was keenly interested in continuing to
work with Buñuel, trusting him completely and frequently stating that
he brought out the best in her, however, this would be their last
Catherine Deneuve starred in Belle de Jour
(1967), based on Joseph Kessel's novel, playing the role of a bored
upper class Parisian housewife who spends her weekdays in a brothel.
She was re-united with Buñuel again, starring in
Toledo, Spain . Deneuve is pictured here in 1968 "Well, I
think it was difficult for him, coping with his deafness. Some people
said he was not that deaf, but I think, when you don't hear very well
and when you're tired, everything sinks into a buzz, and it is very
hard. French is not his language, so on Belle de Jour, I'm sure that
it was much more of an effort for him to have to explain. ". Actress
Catherine Deneuve , star of Belle de Jour
In 1966, Buñuel was approached by the Hakim brothers, Robert and
Raymond , Egyptian-French producers who specialized in sexy films
directed by star filmmakers, who offered him the opportunity to
direct a film version of
Joseph Kessel 's novel Belle de Jour , a book
about an affluent young woman who leads a double life as a prostitute,
and that had caused a scandal upon its first publication in 1928.
Buñuel did not like Kessel's novel, considering it "a bit of a soap
opera", but he took on the challenge because: "I found it interesting
to try to turn something I didn't like into something I did." So he
and Carrière set out enthusiastically to interview women in the
Madrid to learn about their sexual fantasies. Buñuel
also was not happy about the choice of the 22-year-old Catherine
Deneuve for the title role, feeling that she had been foisted upon him
by the Hakim brothers and Deneuve's lover at the time, director
François Truffaut . As a result, both actress and director found
working together difficult, with Deneuve claiming, "I felt they showed
more of me than they'd said they were going to. There were moments
when I felt totally used. I was very unhappy," and Buñuel deriding
her prudery on the set and complaining that the hairdresser had to
bind her breasts in order to assure her that they would not show on
screen. The resulting film has been described by film critic Roger
Ebert as "possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps
the best", even though, as another critic has written, "in terms of
explicit sexual activity, there is little in Belle de jour we might
not see in a
Doris Day comedy from the same year". It was Buñuel's
most successful film at the box office.
Critics have noted Buñuel's habit of following up a commercial or
critical success with a more personal, idiosyncratic film that might
have less chance of popular esteem.
After the worldwide success of his 1967 Belle de jour, and upon
Jean-Luc Godard 's film La Chinoise, Buñuel, who had wanted
to make a film about Catholic heresies for years, told Carrière: "If
that is what today's cinema is like, then we can make a film about
heresies." The two spent months researching Catholic history and
created the 1969 film The Milky Way , a "picaresque road film" that
tells the story of two vagabonds on pilgrimage to the tomb of the
Apostle James at
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela , during which they travel
through time and space to take part in situations illustrating
heresies that arose from the six major Catholic dogmas. Vincent Canby
, reviewing the film in the New York Times, compared it to George
Stevens ' blockbuster
The Greatest Story Ever Told
The Greatest Story Ever Told , in that Buñuel
had made a film about Jesus casting nearly all the famous French
performers of the time in cameo roles. The Milky Way was banned in
Italy, only to have the Catholic Church intervene on its behalf.
:p.152 A few great directors have the ability to draw us into their
dream world, into their personalities and obsessions and fascinate us
with them for a short time. This is the highest level of escapism the
movies can provide for us – just as our elementary identification
with a hero or a heroine was the lowest. Film critic
Roger Ebert ,
The 1970 film
Tristana is a film about a young woman who is seduced
and manipulated by her guardian, who attempts to thwart her romance
with a young artist and who eventually induces her to marry him after
she loses one of her legs due to a tumor. It has been considered by
scholar Beth Miller the least understood of Buñuel's films, and
consequently one of the most underrated, due to a "consistent failure
to apprehend its political and, especially, its socialist-feminist
statement". Buñuel had wanted to make a film of Benito Pérez
Galdós ' novel
Tristana as early as 1952, even though he considered
Galdós' book the author's weakest, in Buñuel's words: "of the 'I
love you, my little pigeon' genre, very kitsch". After finishing
Viridiana and in the wake of the scandal its release caused in 1962,
the Spanish censor flatly turned down this project, :p.152 and Buñuel
had to wait for 8 years before he could receive backing from the
Spanish production company Epoca Films. The censors had threatened to
deny permission for the film on the grounds that it encouraged
duelling, so Buñuel had to approach the subject matter very gingerly,
in addition to making concessions to his French/Italian/Spanish
producers, who insisted on casting two of the three primary roles with
actors not of Buñuel's choosing:
Franco Nero and Catherine Deneuve.
:p.128 On this occasion, however, Deneuve and Buñuel had a more
mutually satisfactory working relationship, with Deneuve telling an
interviewer, "but in the end, you know, it was actually rather a
Tristana is one of my favorite films. Personally, as
an actress, I prefer
Tristana to Belle de Jour."
The germ of the idea for their next film together, The Discreet Charm
of the Bourgeoisie (1972) came from Buñuel and Serge Silberman
discussing uncanny repetition in everyday life; Silberman told an
anecdote about how he had invited some friends for dinner at his
house, only to forget about it, so that, on the night of the dinner
party, he was absent and his wife was in her nightclothes. The film
tells of a group of affluent friends who are continually stymied in
their attempts to eat a meal together, a situation that a number of
critics have contrasted to the opposite dilemma of the characters in
The Exterminating Angel, where guests of a dinner party are
mysteriously unable to leave after having completed their meal. For
this film, Buñuel, Silberman and Carrière assembled a top-flight
cast of European performers, "a veritable rogues' gallery of French
art-house cinema", according to one critic. For the first time,
Buñuel made use of a video-playback monitor , which allowed him to
make much more extensive use of crane shots and elaborate tracking
shots , and enabled him to cut the film in the camera and eliminate
the need for reshoots . Filming required only two months and Buñuel
claimed that editing took only one day. When the film was released,
Silberman decided to skip the Cannes Festival in order to concentrate
on getting it nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign
Language Film , which it won, leading Buñuel to express his contempt
for a process that relied on the judgment of, "2500 idiots, including
for example the assistant dress designer of the studio."
As was his habit, Buñuel took advantage of the popular success of
Discreet Charm to make one of the "puzzling, idiosyncratic films he
really wanted to make". In 1973, at the Monastery of Paular in the
Somosierra , he wrote the screenplay for The Phantom of
Liberty (1974) with Carrière for production by Silberman and his
Hollywood partners. :p.249 The resulting film is a series of 12
distinctive episodes with separate protagonists, linked together only
by following a character from one episode to another in a relay-race
manner. Buñuel has stated that he made the film as a tribute to poet
Benjamin Péret , a founding member of French Surrealism, :p.170 and
called it his "most Surrealist film". :p.249
Buñuel's final film was
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977),
adapted by Buñuel and Carrière from an 1898 novel by Pierre Louÿs
La Femme et le pantin , which had already been used as the
basis of films directed by
Josef von Sternberg (The Devil is a Woman ,
Julien Duvivier (
La Femme et le Pantin , 1959). The film,
which tells the story of an older man who is obsessed by a young woman
who continually evades his attempts to consummate a sexual
relationship, starred the Spanish actor
Fernando Rey , appearing in
his fourth Buñuel film. Initially, the part of the young woman was to
be played by Maria Schneider , who had achieved international fame for
her roles in
Last Tango in Paris and The Passenger , but once
shooting started, according to Carrière, her drug usage resulted in a
"lackluster and dull" performance that caused tempestuous arguments
with Buñuel on the set and her eventual dismissal. Serge Silberman,
the producer, decided to abandon the project at that point, but was
convinced by Buñuel to continue shooting with two different
Angela Molina and
Carole Bouquet playing the same role in
alternating sequences throughout the film. In his autobiography,
Buñuel claimed that this unusual casting decision was his own idea
after drinking two dry martinis, saying: "If I had to list all the
benefits derived from alcohol, it would be endless". Others, have
reported that Carrière had first broached the idea while developing
the film's scenario, but had been brushed off by Buñuel as "the whim
of a rainy day."
LAST YEARS (1978–1983)
"Luis waited for death for a long time, like a good Spaniard, and
when he died he was ready. His relationship with death was like that
one has with a woman. He felt the love, hate, tenderness, ironical
detachment of a long relationship, and he didn't want to miss the last
encounter, the moment of union. "I hope I will die alive," he told me.
At the end it was as he had wished. His last words were 'I'm dying'."
Long-time friend and collaborator,
After the release of
That Obscure Object of Desire , Buñuel retired
from filmmaking. In 1982, he wrote (along with Carrière) his
autobiography, Mon Dernier Soupir (My Last Sigh), which provides an
account of his life, friends, and family as well as a representation
of his eccentric personality. In it, he recounts dreams, encounters
with many well-known writers, actors, and artists such as Pablo
Charlie Chaplin as well as antics, like dressing up as a
nun and walking around town.
In his seventies, Buñuel once told his friend, novelist Carlos
Fuentes : "I'm not afraid of death. I'm afraid of dying alone in a
hotel room, with my bags open and a shooting script on the night
table. I must know whose fingers will close my eyes." Buñuel died in
Mexico City in 1983. Fuentes has recounted that Buñuel spent his last
week in hospital discussing theology with the Jesuit brother Julian
Pablo, a long time friend. His funeral was very private. There were
about 50 people at the most, among them
Octavio Paz , José Luis
Miguel Littin , his wife and two sons.
Benjamin Péret , a long-time friend, the
"quintessential surrealist poet." :p.110
When his first film was released, Buñuel became the first filmmaker
to be officially welcomed into the ranks of the Surrealists by the
André Breton , an event recalled by film historian
Georges Sadoul : "Breton had convoked the creators to our usual venue
... one summer's evening. Dalí had the large eyes, grace, and
timidity of a gazelle. To us, Buñuel, big and athletic, his black
eyes protruding a little, seemed exactly like he always is in Un Chien
Andalou, meticulously honing the razor that will slice the open eye in
two." After he joined the Communist Party in Spain, however, it was
quickly made clear to him that he could not be both a Communist and a
Surrealist; his artistic collaborator Pierre Unik recounted in a
letter of 30 January 1932 that "a comrade from Agit-Prop" called
Buñuel and others together to tell them that, "
Surrealism was a
movement of bourgeois degeneration", continuing, "What will the
rank-and-file comrades say the day I have to announce to them,
'Comrades, I no longer have the right to militate amongst
you...because I'm a degenerate bourgeois?'" :p.97 In consequence, on 6
May 1932, Buñuel wrote a letter to
André Breton renouncing his
membership in the Surrealist group: "Given the current state of things
there could be no question for a Communist of doubting for an instant
between the choice of his party and any other sort of activity or
discipline". He even went so far as to try to re-issue a drastically
cut version of
L'Age d'Or (over two-thirds of the original were
eliminated) in response to complaints that the full 60-minute original
was formally too difficult for the proletariat . :p.138 Nonetheless,
he retained a lifelong affinity with the
Surrealist movement and
longstanding friendships with many of the most prominent Surrealists.
Buñuel's films were famous for their surreal imagery , including
scenes in which chickens populate nightmares, women grow beards, and
aspiring saints are desired by lascivious women. Even in the many
movies he made for hire (rather than for his own creative reasons),
such as Susana and The Great Madcap, he usually added his trademark of
disturbing and surreal images. :pp.119–120 Some critics have pointed
out that one reason why Buñuel found working in Mexico so congenial
was that what might seem unusual or even outlandish in Europe or the
United States fit comfortably with elements of Mexican culture and the
audience's expectations of national melodrama. As filmmaker Tomás
Pérez Turrent has commented, when referring to the apparently
incredible features that many critics find in Buñuel's films: "In
Mexico, it's believable", while one of the founders of Surrealism,
André Breton, called Mexico, "the most surrealist country in the
world." Certainly, running through the more personal films of
Buñuel's early and late years is a backbone of surrealism; Buñuel's
world is one in which an entire dinner party suddenly finds itself
inexplicably unable to leave the room and go home, a bad dream hands a
man a letter which he brings to the doctor the next day, and where the
devil , if unable to tempt a saint with a pretty girl, will fly him to
a disco . An example of a more
Dada influence can be found in Cet
obscur objet du désir , when Mathieu closes his eyes and has his
valet spin him around and direct him to a map on the wall.
Buñuel never explained or promoted his work, remaining true to his
and Dalí's early insistence on the completely irrational and defying
symbolic interpretation. On one occasion, when his son was
The Exterminating Angel , Buñuel instructed him to
give facetious answers. As examples, when asked about the presence of
a bear in the socialites' house, Buñuel fils claimed it was because
his father liked bears, and, similarly, the several repeated scenes in
the film were explained as having been put there to increase the
As a university student, Buñuel had studied entomology at the Museum
of Natural History under the famous naturalist
Ignacio Bolívar ,
:pp.65 and he had an early and lasting interest in the scientific
Jean Painlevé , which he tried to screen at the
Residencia de Estudiantes. :pp.168 Numerous critics have commented on
the number of sequences in his films involving insects, from the
death's head moth in
Un chien andalou and the extended scorpion scenes
in L'Age d'or to the framed tarantula in Le Fantôme de la liberté.
Others have commented on the dispassionate nature of Buñuel's
treatment of his characters, likening it to the stance of the
entomological researcher, and Buñuel himself once said that he had
an "entomological" interest in the protagonist of his film El. :pp.12
Henry Miller observed: "Buñuel, like an entomologist, has
studied what we call love in order to expose beneath the ideology,
mythology, platitudes and phraseologies the complete and bloody
machinery of sex."
RELIGION AND ATHEISM
Many of his films were openly critical of bourgeois morals and
organized religion , mocking the Roman Catholic Church in particular
but religion in general, for its hypocrisy. When asked if it was
intention to blaspheme in his films, Buñuel responded, "I didn't
deliberately set out to be blasphemous, but then
Pope John XXIII is a
better judge of such things than I am." Many of his most famous films
demonstrate this irreverent spirit: Head of
Luis Buñuel in
Centro Buñuel Calanda.
Un chien andalou (1929) – A man drags pianos, upon which are
piled two dead donkeys, two priests, and the tablets of The Ten
* L\'Âge d\'Or (1930) – A bishop is thrown out a window, and in
the final scene one of the culprits of the
120 days of Sodom is
portrayed by an actor dressed in a way that he would be recognized as
El Gran Calavera (1949) – During the final scenes of the
wedding, the priest continuously reminds the bride of her obligations
under marriage. Then the movie changes and the bride runs chasing her
Ensayo de un crimen (1955) – A man dreams of murdering his wife
while she's praying in bed dressed all in white.
Nazarin (1959) – The pious lead character wreaks ruin through
his attempts at charity.
Viridiana (1961) – A well-meaning young nun tries unsuccessfully
to help the poor . One scene in the film parodies The Last Supper .
El ángel exterminador
El ángel exterminador (1962) – The final scene is of sheep
entering a church, mirroring the entrance of the parishioners.
Simón del desierto
Simón del desierto (1965) – The devil tempts a saint by taking
the form of a bare-breasted girl singing and showing off her legs. At
the end of the film, the saint abandons his ascetic life to hang out
in a jazz club.
La Voie Lactée (1969) – Two men travel the ancient pilgrimage
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela and meet embodiments of various
heresies along the way. One dreams of anarchists shooting the
Buñuel is often cited as one of the world's most prominent atheists
. In a 1960 interview, he was asked about his attitude toward
religion, and his response has become one of his most celebrated
quotes: "I'm still an atheist, thank God." But his entire answer to
the question was somewhat more nuanced: "I have no attitude. I was
raised in it. I could answer "I'm still an atheist, thank God." I
believe we must seek God within man himself. This is a very simple
attitude." Critics have pointed out that Buñuel's atheism was
closely connected to his surrealism, in that he considered chance and
mystery, and not providence, to be at the heart of all reality.
Seventeen years later, in an interview with the New Yorker , Buñuel
expressed a somewhat different opinion about religion and atheism:
"I'm not a Christian, but I'm not an atheist either, ... I'm weary of
hearing that accidental old aphorism of mine, 'I'm not an atheist,
thank God.' It's outworn. Dead leaves. In 1951, I made a small film
called 'Mexican Bus Ride', about a village too poor to support a
church and a priest. The place was serene, because no one suffered
from guilt. It's guilt we must escape, not God." However, in 1982,
Buñuel had reaffirmed his atheism in his autobiography. Mexican
Carlos Fuentes has commented that Buñuel represents one of
the most compelling intellectual tendencies of the twentieth century:
"religious temperament without religious faith."
Silvia Pinal was one of Buñuel's "stock company" of actors and
was his preferred choice for the lead in his film
Tristana , a part
which finally went to
Buñuel's style of directing was extremely economical; he shot films
in a few weeks, rarely deviating from his script (the scene in
Catherine Deneuve exposes her breasts to Saturno –
but not the audience – being a noted exception) and shooting in
order as much as possible to minimize editing time. He remained true
throughout his working life to an operating philosophy that he
articulated at the beginning of his career in 1928: "The guiding idea,
the silent procession of images that are concrete, decisive, measured
in space and time—in a word, the film—was first projected inside
the brain of the filmmaker". :p.135 In this, Buñuel has been compared
Alfred Hitchcock , another director famous for precision,
efficiency and preplanning, for whom actually shooting the film was an
anticlimax, since each man would know, in Buñuel's words, "exactly
how each scene will be shot and what the final montage will be".
According to actress
Jeanne Moreau : "He was the only director I know
who never threw away a shot. He had the film in his mind. When he said
'action' and 'cut,' you knew that what was in between the two would be
As much as possible, Buñuel preferred to work with actors and crew
members with whom he had worked before and whom he trusted, leading
some critics to refer to these people as a "stock company" , including
such performers as:
Fernando Rey ,
Francisco Rabal ,
Pierre Clementi ,
Julien Bertheau ,
Michel Piccoli ,
Claudio Brook ,
Silvia Pinal , Paul
Georges Marchal . In his final film, That Obscure Object
of Desire, the central character was played by Rey, but voiced by the
French-speaking Piccoli. He told actors as little as possible, and
limited his directions mostly to physical movements ("move to the
right", "walk down the hall and go through that door", etc.), arguing
that he had a better chance of capturing reality with inexperienced
players who projected a desired sense of awkwardness. He often
refused to answer actors' questions and was known to simply turn off
his hearing aid on the set. One of his stars, Catherine Deneuve, has
stated: "I've always thought that he likes actors, up to a point. I
think he likes very much the idea of the film, and to write it. But I
had the impression that the film-making was not what he preferred to
do. He had to go through actors, and he liked them if they were easy,
simple, not too much fuss." Though they found it difficult at the
time, many actors who worked with him acknowledged later that his
approach made for fresh and excellent performances.
Buñuel preferred scenes that could simply be pieced together
end-to-end in the editing room, resulting in long, mobile, wide shots
which followed the action of the scene.
Patricia Gruben has
attributed this procedure to a long-standing strategy on Buñuel's
part intended to thwart external interference: "he would make the
whole scene in long four-minute dolly shots so the producers couldn't
cut it". Examples are especially present in his French films. For
example, at the ski resort's restaurant in Belle de jour , Séverin,
Pierre, and Henri converse at a table. Buñuel cuts away from their
conversation to two young women, who walk down a few steps and proceed
through the restaurant, passing behind Séverin, Pierre, and Henri, at
which point the camera stops and the young women walk out of frame.
Henri then comments on the women and the conversation at the table
progresses from there.
Gabriel Figueroa was Buñuel's favorite
cameraman, making seven films together and remaining close friends
until the director's death.
Critics have remarked on Buñuel's predilection for developing a
surrealist mise-en-scène through use of a deceptively sparse
naturalism, as Michael Atkinson has put it: "visually Spartan and yet
spasming with bouts of the irrational." Buñuel's visual style has
been generally characterized as highly functional and uncluttered,
with extraneous detail eliminated on sets to focus on
As an example, Buñuel has told about one of his experiences with
Gabriel Figueroa , a veteran who had become famous in
cinematography circles by making a specialty of illuminating the
beauty of the Mexican landscape using photographic chiaroscuro (stark
contrast between illuminated space and dark shadows). Figueroa had
set up a shot for
Nazarín near the valley of the
Popocatépetl : "It
was during this shoot that I scandalized Gabriel Figueroa, who had
prepared for me an aesthetically irreproachable framing, with the
Popocatépetl in the background and the inevitable white clouds. I
simply turned the camera to frame a banal scene that seemed to me more
real, more proximate. I have never liked refabricated cinematographic
beauty, which very often makes one forget what the film wants to tell,
and which personally, does not move me."
Catherine Deneuve has provided another anecdote illustrating
this aspect of Buñuel's style: while shooting Tristana, he had told
her frequently of the distaste he felt for the "touristy" side of
Toledo , where the film was made, so she teased him about one crane
shot that brought out the beauty of the surrounding landscape, to
which Buñuel responded by re-shooting the entire scene from a dolly
with no background whatsoever, all the while inveighing against the
Buñuel has been hailed as a pioneer of the sound film, with L'Age
d'Or being cited as one of the first innovative uses of sound in
French film. Film scholar Linda Williams has pointed out that Buñuel
used sounds, including music, as nonsynchronous counterpoint to the
visual image, rather than redundant accompaniment, in accordance with
theories that had been advanced by
Sergei Eisenstein and others in a
1928 manifesto on the sound film. Critic Marsha Kinder has posited
that Buñuel's years as a film dubber in Europe and Hollywood put him
in the position of "mastering the conventions of film sound, to
subvert them more effectively". In his later years, Buñuel was
almost completely deaf, but he continued to assert control over the
sound effects in his films, such as The Discreet Charm of the
Bourgeoisie, in which seemingly important speech, especially political
discourse, is often drowned out by the noise of urban life, in such a
systematic manner that Kinder has identified Buñuel as one of the
first professional sound designers in cinema. As further illustration
of this, scholar Sally Faulkner has described the means by which, in
his film Tristana, Buñuel "engineers a kind of figurative deafness,
or disability, in the spectator" in scenes which involve deaf
characters, by, for example, combining the sound of gushing water with
an image of a stagnant pool, or exaggerating the volume level of
Music is an important part of Buñuel's early films, to such an
extent that, for his one silent film Un Chien Andalou, in his sixties,
he took the trouble to create a sonorised version, based on the music
(Wagner , a South American tango) played at its original screening.
One critic has noted that, in L'Age d'Or, Buñuel employed the music
of Beethoven , Mozart , Mendelssohn , Debussy and Wagner "as a kind of
connective tissue for, and aural commentary on, the unnerving
visuals." As regards Las Hurdes, critics have often remarked on the
"nagging inappropriateness" of the score, the fourth movement of
Johannes Brahms ' Symphony No. 4 in E Minor , a practice called by
James Clifford "fortuitous or ironic collage." Although Buñuel's use
of this technique declined in frequency over the years, he still
occasionally employed incongruous musical juxtaposition for ironic
effect, notably during the opening and the climactic scenes of
Viridiana , which take place to the strains of
Handel 's Hallelujah
Chorus , in pointed contrast to the jazz music played during the
film's final scene of the card game. :pp.100–101
Late in life, Buñuel claimed to dislike non-diegetic music (music
not intrinsic to the scene itself) and avoided its use, stating: "In
my last films I rarely use music. If I do, it has to be justified, so
the viewer can see its source: a gramophone or a piano." One
consistent exception, however, is the use of the traditional drums
from his birthplace Calanda, which are heard in most of his films,
with such regularity that the repetition has been described as a
"biofilmographic signature". Buñuel's explanation of his use of
these drums was the statement: "Nowhere are they beaten with such
mysterious power as in Calanda...in recognition of the shadows that
covered the earth at the moment Christ died." :p.19
The films of his second French era were not scored and some (Belle de
jour, Diary of a Chambermaid ) are without music entirely. Belle de
jour does, however, feature non-diegetic sound effects , "to unify
spatially incongruous shots or symbolize dream world."
Instituto de Educación Secundaria (IES) Luis Buñuel, Zaragoza,
* In 1994, a retrospective of Buñuel's works was organized by the
Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle in Bonn, as homage to one of the most
internationally revered figures in world cinema. :p.101 This was
followed in the summer of 1996 by a commemoration of the centenary of
the birth of cinema held by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina
Sofía in Madrid, which included a unique retrospective, jointly
sponsored by the King of Spain and the President of Mexico, called
¿Buñuel!. La mirada del siglo, honoring his special status as
Spanish cinema's most emblematic figure.
* A secondary school in
Zaragoza , Spain has been named for Buñuel:
Instituto de Educación Secundaria Ies Luis Buñuel.
Calanda, Spain a bust of the head of
Luis Buñuel is on display
at the Centro Buñuel Calanda (CBC), a museum devoted to the director.
The mission of the CBC is to serve as a reference center both for
connoisseurs of Buñuel and for anyone interested in the arts of
* One of the main theatres at the Palais des Festivals et des
Congrès , where the
Cannes Film Festival is held, is named after him:
* To mark the centenary of his birth, in 2000 the Cannes festival
partnered with the Spanish film industry, to pay tribute to Luis
Buñuel. This tribute consisted of three events: (1) the inauguration,
for Cannes 2000, of the Palace's new
Luis Buñuel room, (2) an
original exhibition organized by L'Instituto de la Cinematografía y
de las Artes Audiovisuales entitled "The Secret World of Buñuel", and
(3) an exceptional projection of Viridiana, the
Palme d'Or winner in
1961, in the presence of specially invited artists.
Luis Buñuel Film Institute (LBFI) is housed in the Downtown
Independent Theatre , Los Angeles, and has as its mission: "to form
the vital and innovative arena for the promotion of the work of Luis
Buñuel, and a seminal resource for the development of new research,
knowledge and scholarship on his life and work, extending across his
body of films and writings."
Buñuel has been portrayed as a character in many films and
television productions. A portion of the television mini-series Lorca,
muerte de un poeta (1987–1988), directed by Juan Antonio Bardem
recreates the student years of Buñuel, Lorca and Dalí, with Fernando
Valverde portraying Buñuel in two episodes. He was played by Dimiter
Guerasimof in the 1991 biopic Dalí, directed by
Antoni Ribas ,
despite the fact that Dalí and his attorney had written to Ribas
objecting to the project in its early stages in 1985. Buñuel
appeared as a character in Alejandro Pelayo's 1993 film Miroslava,
based on the life of actress Miroslava Stern , who committed suicide
after appearing in
Ensayo de un crimen (1955). Buñuel was played by
El Gran Wyoming (old age), Pere Arquillué (young adult)
and Juan Carlos Jiménez Marín (child), in
Carlos Saura 's 2001
fantasy, Buñuel y la mesa del rey Salomón, which tells of Buñuel,
Lorca and Dalí setting out in search of the mythical table of King
Salomón, which is thought to have the power to see into the past, the
present and the future. Buñuel was a character in a 2001 television
Severo Ochoa : La conquista de un Nobel, on the life of the
Spanish émigré and
Nobel Prize winner in medicine, who was also at
Residencia de Estudiantes
Residencia de Estudiantes during Buñuel's time there. Matt Lucas
portrayed Buñuel in Richard Curson Smith's 2002 TV movie
Surrealissimo: The Scandalous Success of Salvador Dalí, a comedy
depicting Dalí's "trial" by the Surrealists in 1934 for his
pro-Hitler sympathies. A 2005 short called The Death of Salvador Dali
, directed by Delaney Bishop, contains sequences in which Buñuel
appears, played by Alejandro Cardenas. Paul Morrison 's Little Ashes
hypothesizes a love affair between Dalí and Lorca, with Buñuel
Matthew McNulty ) looking on suspiciously. Buñuel, played
by Adrien de Van, is one of many notable personalities encountered by
Woody Allen 's protagonist in
Midnight in Paris (2011).
Luis Buñuel was given the Career Golden Lion in 1982 by the Venice
Film Festival and the FIPRESCI Prize – Honorable Mention in 1969 by
Berlin International Film Festival . In 1977, he received the
National Prize for Arts and Sciences for Fine Arts. At the 11th Moscow
International Film Festival in 1979, he was awarded the Honorable
Prize for his contribution to cinema.
Luis Buñuel filmography
* Film portal
Cinema of Mexico
Cinema of Spain
* Generation of \'27
List of atheists in film, radio, television and theater
List of banned films
* ^ A B C D E "Buñuel\'s Mexico". Harvard Film Archive. Fine Arts
Library of the Harvard College Library. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
* ^ A B Kyrou, Ado. "Luis Buñuel". Encyclopædia Britannica.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
* ^ Flint, Peter B. (30 July 1983). "
Luis Buñuel Dies at 83;
Filmmaker for 50 Years". New York Times. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
* ^ Ebert, Roger (16 April 2000). "
Un Chien Andalou Movie Review
(1928)". Great Movies: The First 100. RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 9
* ^ Berg, Charles Ramírez. "Program Notes: THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF
DESIRE". Austin Film Society. Archived from the original on 10 June
2015. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
* ^ Paz, Octavio (1986). On Poets and Others. New York: Arcade
Publishing. p. 152. ISBN 1-55970-139-0 .
* ^ Sinyard, Neil (2010). "The Discreet Charm of Houston and
Buñuel: Notes on a Cinematic Odd Couple", in John Huston: Essays on a
Restless Director, ed. Tony Tracy and Roddy Flynn. Jefferson NC:
McFarland. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7864-5853-0 .
* ^ "Commentary: Bergman on Filmmakers". Berganorama. Archived from
the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
* ^ "Critics\' Top 250 Films". Sight and Sound. British Film
Institute. Archived from the original on 26 October 2013. Retrieved 18
* ^ "The 1,000 Greatest Films". They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?.
* ^ "The Top 250 Directors". They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?.
Retrieved 8 August 2012.
* ^ A B C Alcalá, Manuel (1973). Buñuel (Cine e ideologia).
Madrid: Edicusa. ISBN 84-229-0101-3 .
* ^ Buñuel, Luis. My Last Sigh. Trans. Abigail Israel.
University of Minnesota Press , 2003. ISBN 0-8166-4387-3
. page 8.
* ^ Schwarze, Michael (1988). Luis Buñuel. Barcelona: Plaza &
Janes. p. 9. ISBN 84-01-45079-9 .
* ^ A B "Luis Bunuel". The Directors Guide. Website Creations.
Retrieved 23 July 2012.
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and the existence of God, but... he's forever coming up against the
stone wall of my atheism... Check date values in: date= (help )
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Luis Buñuel bibliography
* J. Francisco Aranda Luis Buñuel: Biografia Critica (Spanish
Edition) Paperback: 479 pages. Publisher: Lumen; Nueva ed. rev. y
aumentada edition (1975) . Language: Spanish . ISBN 8426410553 . ISBN
Robert Bresson and Luis Buñuel. La politica de los autores/ The
Politics of Authors (La Memoria Del Cine) (Spanish Edition) Paidos
Iberica Ediciones S a (April 2003), 189 pages, ISBN 8449314143
* Luis Buñuel, Mi Ultimo Suspiro (English translation My Last Sigh
Alfred A. Knopf
Alfred A. Knopf , 1983).
* Buñuel, Luis (1 March 2002). An Unspeakable Betrayal: Selected
Writings of Luis Buñuel. University of California Press. ISBN
* Luis Buñuel, Manuel Lopez Villegas. Escritos de Luis Bunuel
(Fundidos En Negro / Fused in Black) (Spanish Edition), Editorial
Paginas de Espuma; Paperback, February 2, 2000, 296 pp,ISBN 8493124303
* Luis Buñuel, Rafæl Buñuel, Juan
Luis Buñuel (Afterword). An
Unspeakable Betrayal: Selected Writings of Luis Buñuel. Publisher:
University of California Press; First edition (April 6, 2000), pp 277,
* Luis Buñuel: The Red Years, 1929–1939 (Wisconsin Film Studies).
* Luis Buñuel. El discreto encanto de la burguesia (Coleccion Voz
imagen, Serie cine ; 26) (Spanish Edition) Paperback – 159 pages,
Publisher: Ayma; 1. ed edition (1973), ISBN 8420912646
* Luis Buñuel. El fantasma de la libertad (Serie cine) (Spanish
Edition) Serie cine Paperback, Publisher: Ayma; 1. ed edition (1975)
148 pages, ISBN 8420912840
* Luis Buñuel. Obra literaria (Spanish Edition) Publisher: Heraldo
Aragon (1982),291 pages, ISBN 8485492749
* Luis Buñuel. L'Age d'or: Correspondance Luis Bunuel-Charles de
Noailles : lettres et documents (1929–1976) (Les Cahiers du Musee
national d'art moderne) Centre Georges Pompidou (publ), 1993, pp 190,
* Froylan Enciso, En defensa del poeta Buñuel, en Andar fronteras.
El servicio diplomático de
Octavio Paz en Francia (1946–1951),
Siglo XXI, 2008, pp. 130–134 y 353–357.
* Durgnat, Raymond (1977). Luis Bunuel. University of California
Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03424-2 .
* Javier Espada y Elena Cervera, México fotografiado por Luis
* Javier Espada y Elena Cervera, Buñuel. Entre 2 Mundos.
* Javier Espada y Asier Mensuro, Album fotografico de la familia
* Gubern, Román; Hammond, Paul (4 January 2012). Luis Buñuel: The
Red Years, 1929–1939. University of Wisconsin Pres. ISBN
* Higginbotham, Virginia (1979). Luis Buñuel. Twayne Publishers.
ISBN 978-0-8057-9261-4 .
* Michael Koller "Un Chien Andalou", Senses of Cinema January 2001
Retrieved on 26 July 2006.
* Javier López, Ignacio (2001). "The Old Age of William Tell: A
Study of Buñuel's '"Tristana"'".
MLN . 116: 295–314. doi
* Javier López, Ignacio (2003). "Film, Freud and Paranoia: Dalí
and the Representation of Male Desire in An Andalusian Dog".
Diacritics . 31 (2): 35–48.
* Santaolalla, Isabel; Evans, Peter William (2004). Luis Bunuel: New
Readings. British Film Institute. ISBN 978-1-84457-003-4 .
* Dans l'oeil de Luis Buñuel. France, 2013, 54 min., book and
director: François Lévy-Kuentz, Producer: KUIV Productions, arte
* El último guión – Buñuel en la memoria. Spain, Germany,
France, 2008, 45 min., Book and director: Javier Espada und Gaizka
Urresti, Producer: Imval Producciones
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* Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database
* They Shoot Pictures, Don\'t They?
* La furia umana, n°6, multilanguage dossier (texts by Gilberto
Perez, Adrian Martin, Toni D'Angela, Alberto Abruzzese and others)
* Bunuel Bibliography (via UC Berkeley)
* Buñuel biography
Films directed by
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
* L\'Age d\'Or (1930)
Land Without Bread
Land Without Bread (1933)
Gran Casino (1947)
* The Great Madcap