LBJBR Film Director Spotlight – Luis Bunuel: King of the Surrealists

Before there was Pedro Almodovar, there was the master of surrealism Luis Bunuel. The Spanish born film director would raise the art of film to new levels with the introduction of the surrealist genre to the mainstream of world cinema. But that was only the beginning of the Luis Bunuel story. Bunuel would use his his public notoriety to publicly challenge the dictatorial, brutal Francisco Franco regime in Spain. He would become the voice of descent against Franco and have to seek shelter in Mexico. Bunuel would live the revolutionary llife as he continued making masterpieces of cinema in his adolpted country.

Bunuel would work as an assistant to Eastern on several of his films. The two would have a falling out when Epstein asked Bunuel to assist fellow French director Abel Gance on a film. Bunuel refused and the two men went their separate ways.

Bunuel, born Luis Bunuel-Portoles, February 22, 1900. There was never any doubt what Bunuel’s chosen profession. He moved to Paris at the age of 25, where he quickly made connections, and was able to secure in a private film school ran by Julius Epstein, one of France’s most popular directors at the time.

Biunuel would go on to work as a film critic for several French film magazines. It Was during this time that Bunuel would tackle his first film. With surrealist painter Salvador Dali, the two outcasts by Franco’s fascist government in Spain would create a seminal piece in Surrealist cinema.

Wikipedia notes:

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?

Though not as good as its predecessor, L’ Age d’ Or would serve as a platform for Bunuel’s political beliefs, particularly his disgust of the upper class. Collaborator Salvador Dali would part with the director over the political content in the film.

Not that Bunuel needed Dali. Wikipedia would note –

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, for which he ranks second only to Jean-Luc Godard, with sixteen, and he ranks number 13 on their list of the top 250 directors 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 tjt They? list of the 1,000 greatest films of all time, for which he ranks second only to Jean-Luc Godard, with sixteen, and he ranks number 13 on their list of the top 250 directors

But this Bunuel, the one who reveled in the furor created by his newest short was a long way away from that Bunuel. He would work translating films into American films in to Spanish back in Spanish homeland. Bunuel wouldn’t be spending very long in Spain, though. An outspoken critic of the Franco government, the fiery director would find himself in trouble with the fascist government on numerous occasions

While Luis Bunuel would produce some good work in Mexico, it would be the late 1960s before`Bunuel would having critics and fans eatiàng out of hands. Beginning with 1967’s Belle du Jour, the director would go on to produce a number of quality films notable, including the masterpiece That Obscure Object of Desire and The Phantom of Liberty. Both would afford the director to do what he did best, rail against the monied classessment.

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