Spain (renounced in 1949)
Jeanne Rucar (1934–1983; his death)
Luis Buñuel Portolés (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈlwis βuˈɲwel
portoˈles]; 22 February 1900 – 29 July 1983) was a Spanish
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
picture, Un Chien Andalou—made in the silent era—was called "the
most famous short film ever made" by critic Roger Ebert, and his
last film, 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 & Sound's 2012
critics' poll of the top 250 films of all time. Fifteen of his
films are included in the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? list of the
1,000 greatest films of all time, which is tied with
John Ford for
second most, and he ranks number 13 on their list of the top 250
1 Early years (1900–1924)
2.1 Early French period (1925–1930)
Un Chien Andalou
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
L'Age d'Or (1930)
2.3 United States (1938–1945)
2.4 Intermediate years (1946–1961)
Mexico and beyond: return to international filmmaking
2.5 Late international period (1961–1977)
2.6 Last years (1978–1983)
3 Technique and influences
8 See also
10 Further reading
12 External links
Early years (1900–1924)
Buñuel was born in Calanda, a small town in the province of Teruel,
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". The oldest of seven children, Luis had two brothers,
Alfonso and Leonardo, and four sisters: Alicia, Concepción, Margarita
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, among other important Spanish creative
artists living in the 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
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 [theater]
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 pianist 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
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 (1926).
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
Don't Tell My Mother series, is their
Un Chien Andalou
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
After this apprenticeship, Buñuel shot and directed a 16-minute
short, 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
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
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
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 links
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 de Noailles, 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
leading lady, 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 expatriates including Sergei Eisenstein, Josef Von
Sternberg, Jacques Feyder,
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
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
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.:p.57
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
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
department of 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 productions".:p.37 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
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[when?] and then to
Paris[when?] 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.":p.255
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 film
composer George Antheil: "Inasmuch as [Buñuel], 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", [italics in original]
"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." [italics in original]: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
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 editing." [italics in original]:p.124
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 of 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 for 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 projects
Buñuel's first dubbing assignment on returning to Hollywood was My
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, My
Last Breath, 1994), 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 (1946), starring 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 "[o]n several occasions, both American and
European producers have suggested that I tackle a film version of
Malcolm Lowry's 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 by John Huston.
Intermediate years (1946–1961)
The following year, an old friend, producer Denise Tual, the widow of
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
success, Gran Casino, a musical period piece set in
Tampico during 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
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 Janet and 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
actor/director 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
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 Mexican.
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
"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 winning author
DBC Pierre on Los olvidados
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 champion of
Los olvidados and close friend during
Buñuel's exile in Mexico
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
screening, painter Diego Rivera's wife refused to speak to him, while
poet 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
Literature 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
"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
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 concerns:
sexual pathology: Él (1953),
Ensayo de un crimen
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
Subida al cielo (1952), La
ilusión viaja en tranvía (1954);
the disruptive status of women in a male-dominated culture:
La hija del engaño
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
Mexican novelist 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; Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun; 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
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
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 nomination.
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
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 humiliating."
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
Cannes Film Festival
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
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 ever made."
Late international period (1961–1977)
At the 1960 Cannes Festival, Buñuel was approached by the young
director Carlos Saura, whose film Los Golfos had been entered
officially to represent Spain. Two years earlier, Saura had
Juan Antonio Bardem and
Luis García Berlanga
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
further support was provided by producer Pere Portabella's company
Buñuel and his co-scenarist
Julio Alejandro drafted a preliminary
screenplay for 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.
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
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
Melville, Jacques Becker,
Marcel Camus and Christian-Jaque.
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. 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 Tristana (1970), shot 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
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 brothels of
Madrid to learn about their sexual
fantasies. Buñuel also was not happy about the choice of the
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
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
viewing 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, 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, 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
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, on Tristana
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 wonderful shoot. Tristana is one of my favorite
films. Personally, as an actress, I prefer Tristana to Belle de
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
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 Spanish 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
Buñuel's final film was
That Obscure Object of Desire
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), adapted
by Buñuel and Carrière from an 1898 novel by
Pierre Louÿs called La
Femme et le pantin, which had already been used as the basis of films
Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg (The Devil is a Woman, 1935) and
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
Last Tango in Paris
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
Long-time friend and collaborator, Jean-Claude Carrière
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
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 Cuevas, Miguel Littin, his wife and two sons.
Technique and influences
Main article: Filmmaking technique of Luis Buñuel
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 Catherine Deneuve
Bunuel's technique of filmmaking was strongly influenced by
mise-en-scene, sound editing and use of music. The influences on his
filmmaking have included a positive relationship to surrealism and a
critical approach to atheism and religion. Buñuel's style of
directing was extremely economical; he shot films in a few weeks,
rarely deviating from his script (the scene in Tristana where
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 with
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
Instituto de Educación Secundaria (IES) Luis Buñuel, Zaragoza, Spain
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. Liceo
Español Luis Buñuel, a Spanish international school, is near
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 Aragon.
One of the main theatres at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès,
Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival is held, is named after him: Salle
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
Ensayo de un crimen (1955). Buñuel was played by three actors,
El Gran Wyoming
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
miniseries 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
(played by 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
Luis Buñuel was given the Career Golden Lion in 1982 by the Venice
Film Festival and the FIPRESCI Prize – Honorable Mention in 1969 by
the 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
Cinema of Mexico
Cinema of Spain
Generation of '27
List of atheists in film, radio, television and theater
List of banned films
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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.
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, 1983).
Buñuel, Luis (1 March 2002). An Unspeakable Betrayal: Selected
Writings of Luis Buñuel. University of California Press.
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 de
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, ISBN 2858507457
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.
Javier Espada y Elena Cervera, México fotografiado por Luis Buñuel.
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.
Higginbotham, Virginia (1979). Luis Buñuel. Twayne Publishers.
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.
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 France.
El último guión – Buñuel en la memoria. Spain, Germany, France,
2008, 45 min., Book and director: Javier Espada und Gaizka Urresti,
Producer: Imval Producciones
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Luis Buñuel.
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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)
Films directed by Luis Buñuel
Un Chien Andalou
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
L'Age d'Or (1930)
Land Without Bread
Land Without Bread (1933)
Gran Casino (1947)
The Great Madcap (1949)
Los Olvidados (1950)
Daughter of Deceit
Daughter of Deceit (1951)
Mexican Bus Ride
Mexican Bus Ride (1952)
A Woman Without Love
A Woman Without Love (1952)
El Bruto (1953)
Illusion Travels by Streetcar (1954)
Wuthering Heights (1954)
Robinson Crusoe (1954)
The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz
The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955)
The River and Death
The River and Death (1955)
Cela s'appelle l'aurore
Cela s'appelle l'aurore (1956)
Death in the Garden
Death in the Garden (1956)
La Fièvre Monte à El Pao
La Fièvre Monte à El Pao (1959)
The Young One
The Young One (1960)
The Exterminating Angel
The Exterminating Angel (1962)
Diary of a Chambermaid (1964)
Simon of the Desert
Simon of the Desert (1965)
Belle de Jour (1967)
The Milky Way (1969)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
The Phantom of Liberty
The Phantom of Liberty (1974)
That Obscure Object of Desire
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
1947: Shoeshine – Vittorio De Sica
Monsieur Vincent – Maurice Cloche
Bicycle Thieves – Vittorio De Sica
The Walls of Malapaga – René Clément
Rashomon – Akira Kurosawa
Forbidden Games – René Clément
1953: No Award
1954: Gate of Hell – Teinosuke Kinugasa
1955: Samurai, The Legend of Musashi – Hiroshi Inagaki
La Strada – Federico Fellini
Nights of Cabiria
Nights of Cabiria – Federico Fellini
1958: My Uncle – Jacques Tati
Black Orpheus – Marcel Camus
The Virgin Spring
The Virgin Spring – Ingmar Bergman
1961: Through a Glass Darkly – Ingmar Bergman
Sundays and Cybele
Sundays and Cybele – Serge Bourguignon
8½ – Federico Fellini
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – Vittorio De Sica
The Shop on Main Street
The Shop on Main Street –
Ján Kadár & Elmar Klos
A Man and a Woman
A Man and a Woman – Claude Lelouch
Closely Watched Trains
Closely Watched Trains – Jiří Menzel
1968: War and Peace – Sergei Bondarchuk
1969: Z – Costa-Gavras
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion – Elio Petri
1971: The Garden of the Finzi Continis – Vittorio De Sica
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – Luis Buñuel
1973: Day for Night – François Truffaut
Amarcord – Federico Fellini
1975: Dersu Uzala – Akira Kurosawa
Black and White in Color
Black and White in Color – Jean-Jacques Annaud
Madame Rosa – Moshé Mizrahi
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs – Bertrand Blier
1979: The Tin Drum – Volker Schlöndorff
Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears
Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears – Vladimir Menshov
1981: Mephisto – István Szabó
1982: Volver a Empezar ('To Begin Again') – José Luis Garci
Fanny and Alexander
Fanny and Alexander – Ingmar Bergman
Dangerous Moves – Richard Dembo
The Official Story
The Official Story – Luis Puenzo
1986: The Assault – Fons Rademakers
Babette's Feast – Gabriel Axel
Pelle the Conqueror
Pelle the Conqueror – Bille August
Cinema Paradiso – Giuseppe Tornatore
1990: Journey of Hope – Xavier Koller
Mediterraneo – Gabriele Salvatores
1992: Indochine – Régis Wargnier
1993: Belle Époque – Fernando Trueba
Burnt by the Sun
Burnt by the Sun – Nikita Mikhalkov
Antonia's Line – Marleen Gorris
Kolya – Jan Svěrák
1997: Character – Mike van Diem
Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful – Roberto Benigni
All About My Mother
All About My Mother – Pedro Almodóvar
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Ang Lee
2001: No Man's Land – Danis Tanović
Nowhere in Africa – Caroline Link
The Barbarian Invasions
The Barbarian Invasions – Denys Arcand
The Sea Inside
The Sea Inside – Alejandro Amenábar
Tsotsi – Gavin Hood
The Lives of Others
The Lives of Others – Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
2007: The Counterfeiters – Stefan Ruzowitzky
2008: Departures – Yōjirō Takita
The Secret in Their Eyes
The Secret in Their Eyes – Juan J. Campanella
In a Better World
In a Better World – Susanne Bier
A Separation – Asghar Farhadi
2012: Amour – Michael Haneke
The Great Beauty
The Great Beauty – Paolo Sorrentino
2014: Ida – Paweł Pawlikowski
Son of Saul
Son of Saul – László Nemes
2016: The Salesman – Asghar Farhadi
A Fantastic Woman
A Fantastic Woman – Sebastián Lelio
BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay
Calder Willingham and
Buck Henry (1968)
Waldo Salt (1969)
William Goldman (1970)
Harold Pinter (1971)
Paddy Chayefsky /
Larry McMurtry and
Peter Bogdanovich (1972)
Luis Buñuel and
Jean-Claude Carrière (1973)
Robert Towne (1974)
Robert Getchell (1975)
Alan Parker (1976)
Woody Allen and
Marshall Brickman (1977)
Alvin Sargent (1978)
Woody Allen and
Marshall Brickman (1979)
Jerzy Kosiński (1980)
Bill Forsyth (1981)
Donald E. Stewart (1982)
Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival Best Director Award
René Clément (1946)
René Clément (1949)
Luis Buñuel (1951)
Jules Dassin /
Sergei Vasilyev (1955)
Sergei Yutkevich (1956)
Robert Bresson (1957)
Ingmar Bergman (1958)
François Truffaut (1959)
Yuliya Solntseva (1961)
Liviu Ciulei (1965)
Sergei Yutkevich (1966)
Ferenc Kósa (1967)
Glauber Rocha /
Vojtěch Jasný (1969)
John Boorman (1970)
Miklós Jancsó (1972)
Michel Brault /
Ettore Scola (1976)
Nagisa Oshima (1978)
Terrence Malick (1979)
Werner Herzog (1982)
Robert Bresson /
Andrei Tarkovsky (1983)
Bertrand Tavernier (1984)
André Téchiné (1985)
Martin Scorsese (1986)
Wim Wenders (1987)
Fernando Solanas (1988)
Emir Kusturica (1989)
Pavel Lungin (1990)
Joel Coen (1991)
Robert Altman (1992)
Mike Leigh (1993)
Nanni Moretti (1994)
Mathieu Kassovitz (1995)
Joel Coen (1996)
Wong Kar-wai (1997)
John Boorman (1998)
Pedro Almodóvar (1999)
Edward Yang (2000)
Joel Coen /
David Lynch (2001)
Im Kwon-taek /
Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson (2002)
Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant (2003)
Tony Gatlif (2004)
Michael Haneke (2005)
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Alejandro González Iñárritu (2006)
Julian Schnabel (2007)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2008)
Brillante Mendoza (2009)
Mathieu Amalric (2010)
Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn (2011)
Carlos Reygadas (2012)
Amat Escalante (2013)
Bennett Miller (2014)
Hou Hsiao-hsien (2015)
Olivier Assayas /
Cristian Mungiu (2016)
Sofia Coppola (2017)
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Director
Michelangelo Antonioni (1966)
Ingmar Bergman (1967)
Ingmar Bergman (1968)
François Truffaut (1969)
Ingmar Bergman (1970)
Bernardo Bertolucci (1971)
Luis Buñuel (1972)
François Truffaut (1973)
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola (1974)
Robert Altman (1975)
Martin Scorsese (1976)
Luis Buñuel (1977)
Terrence Malick (1978)
Woody Allen /
Robert Benton (1979)
Martin Scorsese (1980)
Louis Malle (1981)
Steven Spielberg (1982)
Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani (1983)
Robert Bresson (1984)
John Huston (1985)
David Lynch (1986)
John Boorman (1987)
Philip Kaufman (1988)
Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant (1989)
Martin Scorsese (1990)
David Cronenberg (1991)
Clint Eastwood (1992)
Steven Spielberg (1993)
Quentin Tarantino (1994)
Mike Figgis (1995)
Lars von Trier
Lars von Trier (1996)
Curtis Hanson (1997)
Steven Soderbergh (1998)
Mike Leigh (1999)
Steven Soderbergh (2000)
Robert Altman (2001)
Roman Polanski (2002)
Clint Eastwood (2003)
Zhang Yimou (2004)
David Cronenberg (2005)
Paul Greengrass (2006)
Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson (2007)
Mike Leigh (2008)
Kathryn Bigelow (2009)
David Fincher (2010)
Terrence Malick (2011)
Michael Haneke (2012)
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (2013)
Richard Linklater (2014)
Todd Haynes (2015)
Barry Jenkins (2016)
Greta Gerwig (2017)
Gordon Onslow Ford
E. L. T. Mesens
Toni del Renzio
James F. Walker
British Surrealist Group
Bureau of Surrealist Research
Chicago Surrealist Group
Dau al Set
Fighting Cock Society
The Surrealist Group in Stockholm
ISNI: 0000 0001 2281 2593
BNF: cb118945226 (data)