Luis Bunuel was undoubtedly one of the most influential directors of all time and the most important Spanish director. He was born in Calendar, a small town in Aragon, Spain on February 22, 1900. He was sent to study in a Jesuit college. In all likelihood, this experience made up of rigid rules and monotonous everyday life contributes to creating his profound aversion to Catholic institutions.
Luis Bunuel during his university period
Finally moved to Madrid to study at the university, he has the opportunity to be free to know what interests him most: literature and philosophy. Among his friends from the university period are the poet Federico Garcia Lorca and Salvador Dalì , the surrealist painter with whom he will form a long association. The young Luis Bunuel reads and is passionate about Darwin, Sodom and Gomorrah, the apocryphal gospels, The Marquis de Sade, anarchy, Futurism and Symbolism.
But Spain is close to him and he moves to Paris, where he can immerse himself and make friends in the ferment of artistic movements. This is where he gets to know the cinema of Buster Keaton and Fritz Lang , and is an assistant to director Jean Epstein .
The Parisian period
In Paris with Salvator Dalì he will write and produce in 1928 what is to be considered the first surrealist film: Un chien andalou . A revolutionary film that lashes out with violence against the clergy and bourgeois society with a series of dream images, symbols and free associations. The image of the razor cutting a woman’s pupil will remain forever engraved in the world cinematic imagination.
he Follows the film L’age d’or , where he tells of a strange relationship between Jesus Christ and the Marquis de Sade. Bunuel managed to get the film financed by two wealthy philanthropists and to a small extent by Salvador Dali. In L’age d’or he tells us about the man overwhelmed by passion and primordial instincts: scorpions, ancient Roman imperialism, fascism, quotations from Sodom and Gomorrah.
A powerful and subversive film that cannot go unnoticed and seems to have a destructive power. It destroys the relationships of those who produced it, the two philanthropists who end up arguing with each other and with the authors of the film. The cinema where it was shown was destroyed by a group of fascists. The age d’or is finally seized and prohibited by the commissioner. Only in the 1950s will it be possible to see the film again in cinemas.
Luis Bunuel in the United States
Luis Bunuel begins to move between the United States, Mexico and Spain, finding many obstacles due to his revolutionary and anticlerical spirit: bigoted and conformist people, who often hold positions of power, ready to be indignant and to fight against the content of his films. For example, he was fired from the New York Museum of Art because he was discovered atheist by the company executives through the biography that Salvador Dalì had written about him. He also tries to work as a voice actor in Los Angeles, without great continuity.
she She moves to Mexico where commercial clichés and stereotyped characters dominate the cinema. The country is dominated by a male-dominated and traditional vision and Bunuel is unable to express his authentic vision of the world in his works. In 1934 he will marry the French-born Mexican actress and gymnast Jeanne Rucar, with whom he will remain tied for 49 years, until her death. He is forced to make some film without thickness in order to survive. It will take him a few years to find his personal stylistic code, constantly moving between Mexico, Spain and France.
Finally he manages to create one of his masterpieces from the Mexican period The children of violence , inspired by Vittorio De Sica’s Sciuscià and Italian Neorealism. A film that seems to anticipate the style of Pierpaolo Pasolini and his “townspeople”. A story of suburban children marked by violence and the abandonment of every institution. For the church, the family and the state these young people simply do not exist and are doomed to death or condemnation.
A realistic drama with numerous dream ideas and surrealist visions, devoid of the director’s typical irony. An almost documentary style, in which Luis Bunuel makes us understand that surrealism could also be done in a different way, approaching the cinema of reality.
Mexico that tries to promote traditional values in cinema with a backward mentality paradoxically seems to be fertile ground for Bunuel, who knows how to insinuate doubts about his true point of view in the stories. Even if the stories respect Mexican clichés, the characters and the vision of the world remain ambiguous, without drawing precise boundaries between good and evil, between tradition and anarchy.
Another of the best results is Susana, a film that tells the story of a girl who escaped from a reform school who puts a traditional family in crisis with her eroticism.
In The Daughter of Deception transforms the dramatic parable of a man who lost his daughter to a deception into a bizarre burlesque and surrealist gangster movie. A drama transformed into an entertaining anthropological analysis, an entomological vision of human behavior.
Luis Bunuel, now part of the Mexican film industry, makes some more personal and compelling films, but above all minor exotic comedies and films to make a living. The hidden masterpiece of this period is Ecstasy of a crime which is inspired by the thriller atmospheres of Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock, filtered through his very personal style.
Between France, Spain and Mexico
While various European directors return to Europe after the end of the Second World War, Bunuel continues his life as an exile due to Franco’s dictatorship in Spain. The most loved land remains France, but he also collaborates with Italian co-productions and actresses such as Lucia Bosè.
Perhaps the best film of the Mexican period is Nazarin from 1957, an absurd, blasphemous and irreverent tale inspired by the life of Jesus Christ. Back in Spain, which seems to be undergoing a liberal turn, he shoots Viridiana which is awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Film that attracts the ire of the high prelates of Rome on the Osservatore Romano who even sentenced him to one year in prison for the crime of blasphemy.
Unlike most directors who begin a downward creative path as they age, Bunuel seems to do exactly the opposite. In the last period of his life his artistic growth is continuous. From Viridiana onwards he will make all his masterpieces, one after the other.
The exterminating angel shot in Mexico, Diary of a waitress in France, Simon of the desert back in Mexico.
Back in Paris, his spiritual homeland, he creates Belle de jour, with Catherine Deneuve, The Milky Way and Tristana. Then his most famous film The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie , awarded with the Oscar for best foreign film. This is followed by The Phantom of Liberty and That Obscure Object of Desire, his latest film, the story of an old man’s fatal and perverse passion for a very younger.
A dozen masterpieces in a vast filmography built over more than 40 years of activity, shooting films in various parts of the world, constitute one of the most important film careers in the history of cinema, covered by a revolutionary spirit and a out of the ordinary stylistic research. Bunuel was not at all interested in commercial cinema, except when he was forced to do so. He has invested all his energies to create a unique and unmistakable style from the surrealist inspiration.
In 1981 he publishes his autobiography, “Dei Mine of my extreme sighs” published after his death in Mexico City on July 29, 1983.
Luis Bunuel’s Films
Un chien andalou (1929)
“Un chien andalou” is a surrealist short film directed by Luis Buñuel and co-written with Salvador Dalí. This film is known for its experimental nature and highly symbolic content. The plot consists of a series of seemingly disconnected and bizarre sequences, devoid of traditional narrative.
The film opens with an iconic scene in which a man (played by Buñuel himself) cuts a woman’s (played by Simone Mareuil) eye with a razor blade. This image has become one of the most recognizable symbols of surrealist cinema and has been interpreted in various ways.
Subsequently, the film presents a series of surreal and disturbing situations, including a man dragging two pianos loaded with decaying corpses and a hand with insects emerging from the wounds. These provocative images are open to interpretations and deep analysis regarding psychoanalysis, dreams, and the unconscious.
“Un chien andalou” is a cinematic artwork that challenges the narrative and cinematic conventions of its time. Its provocative and experimental nature has made the film a landmark in surreal and avant-garde cinema.
L’âge d’or (1930)
“L’âge d’or” is another notable cinematic work directed by Luis Buñuel and co-written with Salvador Dalí. This film is also an example of surreal and experimental cinema and was made shortly after “Un chien andalou.”
The plot of “L’âge d’or” revolves around a love-struck couple trying to find a quiet place to express their love. However, they are constantly hindered by strange and surreal situations that represent social and political critiques. The film blends romantic elements with a strong critique of bourgeois society and religious institutions.
One of the most famous moments in the film is a scene in which a bishop, played by Caridad de Laberdesque, is portrayed as a supporter of violence and hypocrisy. This scene was particularly controversial at the time and contributed to the censorship of the film in several countries.
“L’âge d’or” was banned for many years due to its content being deemed scandalous and sacrilegious. However, over the years, it has become a landmark in surreal cinema and remains a cornerstone of the genre.
Land Without Bread (1932)
“Land Without Bread” is a documentary directed by the famous Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. It is a work that stands out for its raw and ruthless depiction of poverty and extreme living conditions in the Spanish region of Las Hurdes.
The film explores the lives of the inhabitants of Las Hurdes, a mountainous and isolated area in Extremadura, Spain. Buñuel employs a cynical and biting narration to highlight the misery, malnutrition, and harsh living conditions of this community. The imagery shows scenes of extreme poverty, including the struggle for food and poor hygiene conditions.
One of the most famous scenes in the film is when a goat falls off a cliff, a sequence that has been the subject of debate and critical discussion. Buñuel uses these shocking images to underscore the desperation and isolation of the Las Hurdes community.
“Land Without Bread” is a documentary that challenges the viewer to reflect on social inequality and human suffering. It is a stark testament to the extreme living conditions that some rural Spanish communities endured at the time.
Magnificent Casino (1946)
“Magnificent Casino” is a Mexican film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1946. This film features dramatic and musical elements and is known for being one of the few musicals made by Buñuel.
The plot of “Gran Casino” revolves around two main characters, portrayed by Libertad Lamarque and Jorge Negrete. The story is set in a casino and involves an atmosphere of intrigue, betrayal, and romance. The film also includes numerous musical performances, which have become a distinctive aspect of the movie.
The plot follows a casino singer, played by Lamarque, and a wealthy playboy, played by Negrete. Their lives intertwine in the context of the casino, and the story unfolds through a series of dramatic and musical events.
“Magnificent Casinoo” is known for its musical performances and the combination of dramatic and musical elements in the plot. This film helped solidify Buñuel’s reputation as a versatile director and attracted audiences with its blend of music and drama.
The Great Madcap (1949)
“The Great Madcap” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1949. It is a satirical comedy that addresses social and political themes through humor and caricature.
The plot of “The Great Madcap” focuses on an eccentric character named Archibaldo de la Cruz, played by Fernando Soler. Archibaldo is obsessed with the idea of killing attractive women, but each attempt at murder ends strangely and accidentally, with the women surviving. The film explores the psychology of the character and provides a satirical critique of the privileged Mexican social class of the time.
The story unfolds with a series of comical and bizarre situations, with Archibaldo futilely attempting to fulfill his dark desire. The film employs black humor and surrealism to challenge social and moral conventions.
“The Great Madcap” is an example of Buñuel’s talent for blending sarcasm with social commentary. Through the character of Archibaldo, the film explores the obsessions and contradictions of the society of its time, offering a satirical and surreal perspective.
The Forgotten (1950)
“The Forgotten” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1950.
The plot of “The Forgotten” unfolds in the poor and dangerous streets of Mexico City and centers around a group of young delinquents, including the protagonist Pedro. The film explores their difficult lives, marked by poverty, violence, and despair. Buñuel provides a raw and uncompromising look at the lives of street kids, highlighting the circumstances that led them to a life of delinquency.
The character of Pedro attempts to escape his desperate situation but constantly finds himself involved in tragic situations. The film is known for its realistic and uncensored portrayal of youth violence and life in the slums.
“The Forgotten” was an influential film in Mexican cinema and received international recognition for its powerful storytelling. Buñuel tackled complex social and economic themes through this film, offering a deep and unflinching look at the lives of marginalized youth.
“Susana” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1951. This film is also known by its English title, “This Strange Passion” or “That’s Adultery.”
The plot of “Susana” focuses on the life of Francisco Galván de Montemayor, a middle-aged man portrayed by Arturo de Córdova, who becomes obsessed with a young girl named Gloria, played by Delia Garcés. Francisco is married to an older woman but is drawn to Gloria’s beauty and youth.
The film explores the complex relationship between Francisco and Gloria, with Francisco’s obsession leading him to take increasingly audacious actions to get closer to her. The story provides a psychological portrait of the main characters and addresses themes of desire, jealousy, and morality.
“Susana” is a romantic drama with elements of psychological suspense. The film is known for its portrayal of passionate and obsessive love and is one of Buñuel’s works that explores the themes of desire and morality intensely.
The Daughter of Deceit (1951)
“The Daughter of Deceit” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1951. This film is also known by its Spanish title, “La hija del engaño.”
The plot of “The Daughter of Deceit” unfolds in a luxurious setting and follows the story of a young woman named Isabelle, portrayed by Rosario Granados. Isabelle is the heiress of a wealthy family, but her destiny takes an unexpected turn when she discovers that she was adopted and that her real mother was a prostitute. This discovery leads her on an emotional journey to uncover her origins.
The film explores themes of identity, family secrets, and redemption. The story offers a profound reflection on human nature and society. Buñuel’s direction adds a touch of drama and social critique to the film.
“The Daughter of Deceit” is a film that blends elements of melodrama and social critique and is known for its distinctive style and its ability to explore complex issues through cinematic storytelling.
Ascent to Heaven (1952)
“Ascent to Heaven” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1952.
The plot of “Ascent to Heaven” follows the journey of a group of Mexican passengers as they embark on a bus trip to a remote destination. During the journey, complex social dynamics emerge among the characters, each with their own stories and personalities. The film highlights class differences, tensions, and interpersonal relationships that develop within the group.
The film is known for its satirical approach to Mexican society at the time, highlighting the inequalities and absurdities of everyday life. Buñuel’s sharp wit and social commentary are evident throughout the movie.
“Ascent to Heaven” is a thought-provoking exploration of human nature and society, using the confined space of a bus as a microcosm to examine the broader dynamics of Mexican culture and class distinctions.
A Woman Without Love (1952)
“A Woman Without Love” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1952. This film is also known by its English title, “A Woman Without Love.”
The plot of “A Woman Without Love” follows the story of Lucia, portrayed by Rosario Granados, a high-society Mexican woman who is married to an older man but dissatisfied with her married life. When a young and charming doctor enters her life, Lucia begins to feel a reawakening of passion and attraction.
The film explores themes of desire, betrayal, and marital dissatisfaction. It’s a story of love and conflict set in Mexican high society, with a dramatic and intense narrative.
“A Woman Without Love” is an example of Buñuel’s talent in telling complex and human stories. The film offers a reflection on the nature of love and happiness, exploring the emotions and choices of the main characters.
The Brute (1953)
“The Brute” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1953. This film is also known by its English title, “The Brute.”
The plot of “The Brute” revolves around a character named Pedro, portrayed by Pedro Armendáriz, a worker in a soap factory. Pedro is known for his physical strength and brutality and is feared by his colleagues. His life takes an unexpected turn when he begins a relationship with a colleague’s wife, played by Katy Jurado.
The film explores themes of desire, violence, and rivalry. The story highlights the conflict between Pedro and the betrayed husband, and his relationship with the woman adds further complications. “Il bruto” offers a glimpse into a Mexican working-class community and the power dynamics and desires that develop within it.
The film is known for its portrayal of complex characters and the use of the industrial setting to reflect on social and human themes. Buñuel’s direction contributes to creating a dramatic and engaging narrative.
This Strange Passion (1953)
“This Strange Passion” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1953. This film is also known by its English title, “This Strange Passion” or “This Strange Passion of Mine.”
The plot of “This Strange Passion” focuses on Francisco Galván de Montemayor, portrayed by Arturo de Córdova, a middle-aged man with a deep obsession with women’s feet. Francisco is married to an older woman but is tormented by sexual fantasies related to women’s feet. This obsession leads him to commit disturbing acts and isolate himself from the outside world.
The film explores the dark depths of the protagonist’s mind and provides social critique on repressed sexuality and societal conventions of the time. Buñuel’s storytelling is complex and rich in symbolism, with imagery and sequences reflecting Francisco’s inner turmoil.
“This Strange Passion” is an example of Buñuel’s cinema that challenges norms and addresses taboo themes boldly. The film is known for its psychological and symbolic approach to storytelling, inviting the viewer to reflect on the complexity of the human psyche.
Illusion Travels by Streetcar (1953)
“Illusion Travels by Streetcar” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1953.
The plot of “Illusion Travels by Streetcar” is set in Mexico City and follows the lives of two tram drivers, one named Tarrajas and the other named Pelon, portrayed by Fernando Soler and Lilia Prado, respectively. The two friends are tasked with operating an old tram for one final journey before it is scheduled to be decommissioned.
During the journey, complex dynamics emerge among the characters, including personal conflicts and reflections on their lives. The film provides a sharp portrayal of the world of work and the Mexican working class, with a critical look at social inequalities.
“Illusion Travels by Streetcar” is known for its subtle humor and social critique. Buñuel uses the tram setting as a metaphor to explore the aspirations and disappointments of everyday life. The film is an example of Buñuel’s ability to blend social realism with humor and surrealism.
Wuthering Heights (1954)
“Wuthering Heights” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1954. However, it’s important to note that this film is not based on Emily Brontë’s famous novel “Wuthering Heights.” Buñuel’s version is an adaptation of the novel but has some significant differences from the original story.
Buñuel’s film primarily focuses on the love story between Catherine, portrayed by Irasema Dilián, and Alejandro, played by Jorge Mistral. While the plot retains some of the themes of passion and destiny found in the novel, Buñuel made some modifications and reinterpretations of the story.
In Buñuel’s film, the story is told through the eyes of a mysterious guest who visits the house of Wuthering Heights. This narrative approach adds an element of ambiguity and mystery to the plot.
Buñuel’s “Wuthering Heights” is known for its gothic atmosphere and innovative interpretation of the classic story. While it’s an adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel, it’s a distinctive work that reflects the unique vision and style of the Spanish director.
Robinson Crusoe (1954)
“Robinson Crusoe” (Le avventure di Robinson Crusoe) is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1954.
The plot of “Robinson Crusoe” is based on the famous novel “Robinson Crusoe” written by Daniel Defoe. The film follows the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, portrayed by Dan O’Herlihy, a sailor stranded on a deserted island after a storm. Crusoe must learn to survive on his own, facing challenges such as finding food, building shelter, and battling loneliness.
The film explores themes of survival, isolation, and human resilience. The narrative follows Crusoe’s journey as he tries to adapt to life on the island and find a way to return home.
“Robinson Crusoe” is known for its faithfulness to the original story and O’Herlihy’s portrayal in the lead role. The film provides an engaging depiction of the challenges and adventures faced by the character of Crusoe during his extended isolation on the deserted island.
The River and Death (1954)
“The River and Death” is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1954.
The plot of “The River and Death” is set in a remote village in Mexico and follows the story of a man named Dionisio, played by Columba Domínguez, who becomes involved in a conflict with the local authorities over water rights. The film explores themes of social injustice, resistance, and the struggle for survival in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
Buñuel’s direction in “The River and Death” is notable for its social commentary and political undertones. The film reflects his interest in depicting the struggles of marginalized and oppressed individuals against oppressive systems and authorities.
“The River and Death” is a powerful and thought-provoking work that delves into the complexities of human nature and society. It is known for its stark and unflinching portrayal of the harsh realities faced by the characters in their fight for justice and survival.
The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955)
“The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz” (La vida criminal de Archibaldo de la Cruz) is a film directed by Luis Buñuel in 1955.
The plot of “The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz” follows the story of Archibaldo, portrayed by Ernesto Alonso, a man obsessed with homicidal thoughts since childhood. However, despite his dark fantasies, it seems that luck is always on his side, and none of his homicidal desires come true. Archibaldo lives a life of luxury and seemingly without worries, but his obsession continues to haunt him.
The film explores themes of fate, guilt, and human psychology. Buñuel uses black humor and surrealism to delve into Archibaldo’s mind and his strange series of events.
“The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz” is known for its provocative storytelling and critical commentary on society and morality. Buñuel challenges conventions and traditional expectations, offering a complex and provocative view of the human psyche.
That Is the Dawn (1955)
“That Is the Dawn” is a 1966 film directed by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel. The film is an extraordinary example of Buñuel’s talent for creating cinematic works filled with psychological depth and complex subtexts.
The plot of “That Is the Dawn” revolves around a family facing a crisis when a man, after a long absence, suddenly reenters their lives. This man’s return sets in motion a series of events that unveil long-buried secrets from the past and bring hidden tensions among family members to light. The film explores themes such as memory, guilt, and the search for truth, all with Buñuel’s distinctive touch that challenges audience expectations and offers a sharp perspective on human nature.
With his ability to skillfully blend surreal humor with intense drama, Luis Buñuel provides a penetrating look into the inner world of the characters, creating a cinematic work that continues to be admired for its depth and complexity. “That Is the Dawn” represents another significant milestone in the career of a master of cinema.
Death in the Garden (1956)
“Death in the Garden” is a 1956 film directed by the French director Luis Buñuel.
The film is an adventurous drama set in a tropical environment. The plot follows a diverse group of characters who find themselves trapped in the South American jungle while trying to escape a political uprising. The story explores tensions, alliances, and human dynamics in an extreme survival situation.
Luis Buñuel, known for his surreal and provocative approach to cinema, brings his distinctive signature to this film, creating a work that blends elements of adventure, drama, and social critique.
“Nazarín” is a 1958 film directed by Luis Buñuel.
The film follows the story of Father Nazario, an idealistic Catholic priest who tries to live according to the teachings of Christ by helping the poor and marginalized. However, his compassionate and altruistic behavior puts him in conflict with the Church and society. The plot explores the challenges and difficulties that Nazario encounters in pursuing his ideal of Christian life in a ruthless and unjust world.
“Nazarín” is a remarkable cinematic work by Luis Buñuel that raises important questions about faith, morality, and redemption. The film is known for its critical analysis of religious and social institutions and offers a profound perspective on human nature.
Fever Mounts at El Pao (1959)
“Fever Mounts at El Pao” is a 1959 film directed by Luis Buñuel.
The film is a political drama set in an imaginary South American nation but clearly inspired by criticism of authoritarian regimes in Latin America. The plot follows the story of Ramón, a high-ranking military officer who clashes with the corrupt and authoritarian regime of his country. The film explores themes of power, oppression, rebellion, and the consequences of brutal politics on the lives of ordinary people.
Luis Buñuel uses his unique ability to stage surreal situations to create an intensely political and social portrait. “Fever Mounts at El Pao” is a significant work that offers critical reflection on the politics and society of its time.
The Young One (1960)
“The Young One” is a 1960 film directed by Luis Buñuel.
The film addresses complex social and racial themes. The plot revolves around a young black man named Traver, played by Bernie Hamilton, who is on the run from false accusations and takes refuge on a remote island where a caretaker named Miller, played by Zachary Scott, lives. Miller is initially suspicious of Traver, but when a young white woman named Evvie, played by Key Meersman, arrives on the island, a complex dynamic unfolds among the characters.
The film explores racism, racial tensions, and moral issues provocatively, challenging the social norms of its time. Luis Buñuel uses his skill in directing tense and ambiguous situations to create a work that raises important questions about society and human nature.
“Viridiana” is a 1961 film directed by the renowned Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel.
The film tells the story of Viridiana, a young novice played by Silvia Pinal, who is about to take her religious vows. However, before she takes her vows, she is summoned by her uncle Jaime, played by Fernando Rey, a man of dubious morality. Jaime has controversial and secretive plans that involve Viridiana in a series of unpredictable events.
The plot of “Viridiana” delves deeply into complex themes related to morality, religion, and forbidden desires. The film offers a critical view of society and religious institutions, highlighting the contradictions and hypocrisies present in both. Silvia Pinal’s performance in the role of Viridiana is remarkable, and the film is known for its provocative and disturbing scenes, some of which caused controversy upon its release.
With “Viridiana,” Luis Buñuel provides a bold reflection on human nature, religion, and morality, challenging the social conventions of the time in a way that has continued to stimulate discussions and critical debates over the years.
The Exterminating Angel (1962)
“The Exterminating Angel” is a 1962 film directed by Luis Buñuel. The title remains the same in both Italian and English.
The film is an enigmatic and surreal exploration of the human condition and social conventions. The plot revolves around a group of aristocrats who find themselves trapped in a house after a dinner party. Despite the possibility of leaving, the characters are unable to exit the residence and are forced to confront their own human nature, gradually revealing the darker side of civilization.
“The Exterminating Angel” is a highly symbolic cinematic work that offers sharp satire on society and social conventions of the time. The film is known for its enigmatic and surreal nature, with scenes that defy traditional logic and interpretation. It is a thought-provoking work that can be interpreted in various ways but remains a masterpiece by Luis Buñuel.
Diary of a Chambermaid (1964)
“Diary of a Chambermaid” is a 1964 film directed by Luis Buñuel. In English, the title could be translated as “Diary of a Chambermaid.”
The film is an adaptation of Octave Mirbeau’s novel “Diary of a Chambermaid” and is set in France at the end of the 19th century. The plot follows the story of Célestine, played by Jeanne Moreau, a young woman who becomes a chambermaid in a country house. Throughout the film, Célestine observes and interacts with the eccentric and often disturbed members of the family who employ her. The story highlights power dynamics, repressed sexuality, and hidden corruption within the society of the time.
Luis Buñuel brings his distinctive touch to this adaptation, exploring dark and disturbing themes provocatively. The film offers a sharp look at bourgeois society of the era and is known for its social critique and commentary on the human condition.
Simon of the Desert (1965)
“Simon of the Desert” is a 1965 film directed by Luis Buñuel. The title remains the same in both Italian and English.
The film presents an unusual story set in the desert where the protagonist, played by Claudio Brook, portrays Simon, a religious ascetic seeking spiritual perfection by living atop a tall stone column in the desert. The plot takes a surreal turn as Simon is tempted by various temptations and bizarre situations during his asceticism in the desert. The film explores the concept of temptation, the struggle between spirituality and sin, and offers a provocative view of religion and the quest for holiness.
As is often the case in Luis Buñuel’s films, “Simon of the Desert” provides a critical and surreal approach to religion and morality, challenging audience expectations and raising profound questions about faith and human nature.
Beauty of Day (1967)
“Beauty of Day” is a 1967 film directed by Luis Buñuel. The title remains the same in both Italian and English.
The film is based on a novel by Joseph Kessel and is one of Buñuel’s most celebrated works. The plot revolves around Séverine, played by Catherine Deneuve, a bourgeois woman who leads an outwardly peaceful life with her husband. However, Séverine secretly harbors sexual fantasies and immerses herself in a world of daytime prostitution, adopting the pseudonym “Belle de Jour,” to satisfy her hidden desires.
“Beauty of Day” is known for its exploration of sexuality, repression, and dark fantasies. The film blurs the lines between reality and the world of dreams, offering an intriguing view of the complex facets of the human psyche. Catherine Deneuve’s performance and Buñuel’s direction have contributed to making it a classic of erotic and psychological cinema.
The Milky Way (1969)
“The Milky Way” is a 1969 film directed by Luis Buñuel. The title remains the same in both Italian and English.
This film is one of Buñuel’s most iconic works and is known for its surreal and provocative storytelling. The plot follows two vagabonds, played by Paul Frankeur and Laurent Terzieff, who travel along the Camino de Santiago, one of the major religious pilgrimage routes in Spain. During their journey, they encounter a series of eccentric characters and engage in discussions of religious, philosophical, and theological matters.
“The Milky Way” is a film that challenges traditional narrative conventions and is rich in religious and metaphorical symbolism. Buñuel uses the protagonists’ journey as a pretext to explore different interpretations of faith and to pose profound questions about religion, morality, and human spirituality. The film is characterized by surreal scenes and often provocative dialogues, typical of Buñuel’s distinctive style.
“Tristana” is a 1970 film directed by Luis Buñuel.
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Benito Pérez Galdós and is a psychological drama that explores themes of love, power, and dependence. The plot revolves around Tristana, played by Catherine Deneuve, a young woman who becomes an orphan and is taken under the guardianship of Don Lope, played by Fernando Rey, an older gentleman. Tristana eventually enters into a romantic relationship with Don Lope, but this relationship develops in a complex and tense manner. The film follows the dynamics of this relationship and the consequences of love and dependence.
“Tristana” is known for its in-depth character analysis and their relationships, as well as its social critique and commentary on the condition of women in the era it is set. Catherine Deneuve’s performance is remarkable, and the film offers a complex perspective on human psychology.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
“The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” is a 1972 film directed by Luis Buñuel. The title remains the same in both Italian and English.
The film is known for its surreal and satirical storytelling. The plot follows a group of French bourgeoisie who constantly try to organize a dinner but are continually disrupted by a series of bizarre and surreal events. These events include strange dreams, unexpected encounters, and comedic situations.
“The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” is a work that blurs the lines between the real and the unreal, challenging logic and audience expectations. The film offers a satirical critique of the bourgeois class and the social conventions of the time while exploring the concept of routine and how appearances can conceal a more complex reality.
As is often the case in Luis Buñuel’s films, the plot escapes traditional conventions and offers a surreal view of society and human nature.
The Phantom of Liberty (1974)
“The Phantom of Liberty” is a 1974 film directed by Luis Buñuel.
This film is another example of Buñuel’s surreal and provocative cinema. The plot consists of a series of surreal episodes loosely connected to each other in what appears to be a random manner. The film explores the notion of freedom and how it is often illusory in modern society. The episodes feature bizarre situations, non-sequitur dialogues, and black humor.
“The Phantom of Liberty” is a work that challenges traditional narrative structure and offers a critical reflection on society, morality, and the concept of normality. It is an example of Buñuel’s ability to stage surreal situations that force viewers to question social conventions and the meaning of individual freedom.
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
“That Obscure Object of Desire” is a 1977 film directed by Luis Buñuel.
The film is known for its unconventional narrative structure. It tells the story of a wealthy and elderly Frenchman, Mathieu, played by Fernando Rey, who becomes infatuated with a young Spanish woman named Conchita. However, Conchita’s feelings toward Mathieu are enigmatic and constantly shifting. The film explores themes of desire, obsession, and the complexity of human relationships.
What makes “That Obscure Object of Desire” unique is that the character of Conchita is portrayed by two different actresses, Carole Bouquet and Ángela Molina, interchangeably throughout the film, even within the same scene. This unusual casting choice adds to the film’s sense of mystery and ambiguity.
Luis Buñuel’s direction in this film is marked by his characteristic surreal and subversive style, and the narrative challenges traditional storytelling conventions. It’s a thought-provoking exploration of human desire and the elusiveness of fulfillment.