Saturday, December 10, 2011

Director Series: Luis Bunuel

In a bit of a departure from the usual reviews, for the next few posts I'm going to work my way through a set of movies directed by Luis Bunuel. I'll confess to owning a box set of his movies for around four years, and only ever watching one of them (which I reviewed way back in 2007!), so this will be education for me, and hopefully I can recommend the ones worth watching.

If you're unfamiliar with Bunuel or his work, he's probably one of the most influential directors in movie history, but certainly the most celebrated Spanish movie director of all time. In his very early career, his surrealist inflences led him to work with Salvador Dali on the notorious short surrealist film 'Un Chien Andalou' ('An Andalusian Dog'). Staggeringly, made in 1929, this short film announced Bunuel's arrival, and includes a sequence involving a razorblade and an eyeball that might still make headlines were it included in a movie released today.

The surrealist influence continued throughout his career, and I should probably confess up-front to being a big fan of Salvador Dali and surrealist art. When surrealism is done well, as with a lot of Bunuel and Dali's work, it can challenge and excite audiences, and make even the most formulaic piece of drama suddenly seem subversive.

Bunuel's later career had this subversive surrealism, and he was renowned for his perceived attacks on organised religion, which put him at odds with the fascist establishment in Spain, and ultimately led to him leaving the country. As a result, many of his movies were made in France, and are in the French language. Perhaps his best known, Belle De Jour is a great representation of this wilful subversive cinema, and I'll certainly be including that.

This should be the ideal project for the Christmas holidays and early new year, so I hope you enjoy these movies as much as I'm going to!

Here's the complete list of Bunuel movies I'll be watching and reviewing:
Un Chien Andalou
L'Age d'Or
La Joven (The Young One)
The Exterminating Angel
The Diary of a Chambermaid
Belle de Jour
The Milky Way
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (here's my previous review)
The Phantom of Liberty
That Obscure Object of Desire

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