Luis BuÑuel - Director




Nationality: Spanish. Born: Calanda, province of Teruel, Spain, 22 February 1900. Education: Jesuit schools in Zaragosa, 1906–15, Residencia de Estudiantes, Madrid, 1917–20, and University of

Luis Buñuel
Luis Buñuel
Madrid, graduated 1924. Family: Married Jeanne Rucar, 1933, two sons. Career: Assistant to Jean Epstein in Paris, 1925; joined Surrealist group, and directed first film, Un Chien andalou , 1929; worked for Paramount in Paris, 1933; executive producer for Filmofono, Madrid, 1935; served Republican government in Spain, 1936–39; worked at Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1939–42; produced Spanish versions of Warners films, Hollywood, 1944; moved to Mexico, 1946; returned to Spain to make Viridiana , 1961 (film suppressed). Awards: Best Director Award and International Critics Prize, Cannes Festival, for Los olvidados , 1951; Gold Medal, Cannes Festival, for Nazarin , 1959, and Viridiana , 1961; Golden Lion, Venice Festival, for Belle de jour , 1967. Died: In Mexico City, 29 July 1983.


Films as Director:

1929

Un Chien andalou ( Andalusian Dog ) (+ pr, co-sc, ed, role as Man with razor)

1930

L'Age d'or (+ co-sc, ed, mu)

1932

Las Hurdes—Tierra sin pan ( Land without Bread ) (+ sc, ed)

1935

Don Quintin el amargao (Marquina) (co-d uncredited, + pr, co-sc); La hija de Juan Simón (Sáenz de Heredia) (co-d uncredited, + pr, co-sc)

1936

Centinela alerta! (Grémillon) (co-d uncredited, + pr, co-sc)

1940

El Vaticano de Pio XII ( The History of the Vatican ) (short, special issue of March of Time series)

1947

Gran Casino ( Tampico )

1949

El gran calavera

1950

Los olvidados ( The Forgotten ; The Young and the Damned ) (+ co-sc); Susana ( Demonio y carne ) (+ co-sc)

1951

La hija del engaño ( Don Quintín el amargao ); Cuando los hijos nos juzgan ( Una mujer sin amor ); Subida al cielo (+ sc)

1952

El Bruto (+ co-sc); Las aventuras de Robinson Crusoe ( Adventures of Robinson Crusoe ) (+ co-sc); El (+ co-sc)

1953

Abismos de pasión ( Cumbres borrascoses ) (+ co-sc); La ilusión viaja en tranvía (+ co-sc)

1954

El rio y la muerte (+ co-sc)

1955

Ensayo de un crimen ( La Vida Criminal de Archibaldo de La Cruz ; The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz ) (+ co-sc); Cela s'appelle l'Aurore (+ co-sc)

1956

La Mort en ce jardin ( La muerte en este jardin ) (+ co-sc)

1958

Nazarín (+ co-sc)

1959

La Fièvre monte à El Pao ( Los Ambiciosos ) (+ co-sc)

1960

The Young One ( La Joven ; La Jeune Fille ) (+ co-sc)

1961

Viridiana (+ co-sc, story)

1962

El ángel exterminador ( The Exterminating Angel ) (+ co-sc, story)

1963

Le Journal d'une femme de chambre (+ co-sc)

1965

Simon del desierto (+ co-sc)

1966

Belle de jour (+ co-sc)

1969

La Voie lactée ( The Milky Way ; La via lattea ) (+ co-sc, mu)

1970

Tristana (+ co-sc)

1972

Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie ( The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie ) (+ co-sc)

1974

Le Fantôme de la liberté ( The Phantom of Liberty ) (+ sc, sound effects)

1977

Cet obscur objet du desir ( That Obsure Object of Desire ) (+ co-sc)

Other Films:

1926

Mauprat (Epstein) (asst d, role as monk)

1927

La Sirène des tropiques (Etiévant and Nalpas) (asst d)

1928

La Chute de la maison Usher (Epstein) (asst d)

1936

Quién me quiere a mi? (Sáenz de Heredia) (pr, co-sc, ed)

1937

Espagne 1937/España leal en armas! (compilation, ed)

1940

Triumph of Will (supervising ed, commentary, edited compilation of Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens and Hans Bertram's Feuertaufe )

1950

Si usted no puede, yo sí (Soler) (co-story)

1964

Llanto por un bandido ( Lament for a Bandit ) (Saura) (role as the executioner; tech advisor on arms and munitions); En este pueblo no hay ladrones (Isaac) (role)

1972

Le Moine (Kyrou) (co-sc)

1973

La Chute d'un corps (Polac) (role)



Publications


By BUÑUEL: books—

Viridiana , Paris, 1962; Mexico City, 1963.

El ángel exterminador , Barcelona, 1964.

L'Age d'or and Une Chien andalou , London, 1968.

Three Screenplays: Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, Simon of the Desert , New York, 1969.

Belle de Jour , London, 1971.

Tristana , London, 1971.

The Exterminating Angel/Nazarín/Los Olvidados , London, 1972.

My Last Breath , New York, 1983.


By BUÑUEL: articles—

Interview with Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and André Bazin, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1954.

Interview with Daniel Aubry and Jean Lacor, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley, California), Winter 1958.

"Poésie et cinéma," in Cinéma (Paris), June 1959.

"Luis Buñuel—A Statement," in Film Culture (New York), Summer 1960.

"The Cinema: An Instrument of Poetry," in New York Film Bulletin , February 1961.

Interview with Kenji Kanesaka, in Film Culture (New York), Spring 1962.

"Illisible, fils de flûte: synopsis d'un scénario non réalisé," with Jean Larrea, in Positif (Paris), March 1963.

"Luis Buñuel: voix off," an interview with Manuel Michel, in Cinéma (Paris), March 1965.

"Buñuel contre son mythe," an interview with Manuel Michel, in Cinéma (Paris), April 1966.

"Luis Buñuel," in Interviews with Film Directors , edited by Andrew Sarris, New York, 1967.

Interview with J. Cobos and G. S. de Erice, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1967.

"Buñuel Scenes," an interview with Carlos Fuentes, in Movietone News (Seattle), February 1975.

"Aragón, Madrid, Paris . . . Entrevista con Luis Buñuel," with J. de la Colina and T. Pérez, in Contracampo (Madrid), October/November 1980.

Interview with Aldo Tassone, in Chaplin (Stockholm), vol. 24, no. 3, 1982.

"Dali intervista Buñuel," in Cinema Nuovo (Bari), December 1983.

"Dnevnaia krasavitsa," in Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 6, 1992.


On BUÑUEL: books—

Kyrou, Ado, Luis Buñuel , Paris, 1962.

Estève, Michel, editor, Luis Buñuel , Paris, 1962/63.

Durgnat, Raymond, Luis Buñuel , Berkeley, California, 1968.

Luis Buñuel: Biografia Critica , Madrid, 1969.

Buache, Freddy, Luis Buñuel , Lausanne, 1970; published as The Cinema of Luis Buñuel , London, 1973.

Matthews, J.H., Surrealism and Film , Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1971.

Alcalá, Manuel, Buñuel (Cine e ideologia) , Madrid, 1973.

Aranda, José Francisco, Luis Buñuel: A Critical Biography , New York, 1975

Cesarman, Fernando, El ojo de Buñuel , Barcelona, 1976.

Drouzy, M., Luis Buñuel, architecte du rêve , Paris, 1978.

Mellen, Joan, editor, The World of Luis Buñuel , New York, 1978.

Cameron, Ian, Luis Buñuel , Berkeley, California, 1979.

Higginbotham, Virginia, Luis Buñuel , Boston, 1979.

Bazin, André, The Cinema of Cruelty: From Buñuel to Hitchcock , New York, 1982.

Cesarman, Fernando, L'Oeil de Buñuel , Paris, 1982.

Edwards, Gwynne, The Discreet Art of Luis Buñuel: A Reading of His Films , London, 1982.

Rees, Margaret A., Luis Buñuel: A Symposium , Leeds, 1983.

Lefèvre, Raymond, Luis Buñuel , Paris, 1984.

Vidal, Agustin Sanchez, Luis Buñuel: Obra Cinematografica , Madrid, 1984.

Aub, Max, Conversaciones con Buñuel: Seguidas de 45 Entrevistas con Familiares, Amigos y Colaboradores del Cineasta Aragones , Madrid, 1985.

Bertelli, Pino, Buñuel: L'Arma dello Scandalo: L'Anarchia nel Cinema di Luis Buñuel , Turin, 1985.

Oms, Marcel, Luis Buñuel , Paris, 1985.

De la Colina, José, and Tomas Perez Turrent, Luis Buñuel: Prohibido Asomarse al Interior , Mexico, 1986.

Sandro, Paul, Diversions of Pleasure: Luis Buñuel and the Crises of Desire , Columbus, Ohio, 1987.

Monegal, Antonio, Luis Buñuel: De la literatura al cine; una poética del objeto , Barcelona, 1993.

Fuentes, Víctor, Buñuel en México: iluminaciones sobre una pantalla pobre , Aragon, 1993.

Pérez Bastías, Luis, Las dos caras de Luis Buñuel , Barcelona, 1994.

Evans, Peter William, The Films of Luis Buñuel: Subjectivity and Desire , Oxford and New York, 1995.

El Ojo: Buñuel, México y el surrealismo , Mexico, 1996.


On BUÑUEL: articles—

Demeure, Jacques, "Luis Buñuel: poète de la cruaute," in Positif (Paris), no. 10, 1954.

Richardson, Tony, "The Films of Luis Buñuel," in Sight and Sound (London), January/March 1954.

Robles, Emmanuel, "A Mexico avec Luis Buñuel," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), October 1956.

Riera, Emilio, "The Eternal Rebellion of Luis Buñuel," in Film Culture (New York), Summer 1960.

Bazin, André, "Los Olvidados," in Qu'est ce que le cinéma (Paris) vol. 3, 1961.

Aranda, José Francisco, "Surrealist and Spanish Giant," in Films and Filming (London), October 1961.

Aranda, José Francisco, "Back from the Wilderness," in Films and Filming (London), November 1961.

"Buñuel Issue" of Positif (Paris), November 1961.

Prouse, Derek, "Interviewing Buñuel," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1962.

Almendros, Nestor, "Luis Buñuel: Cinéaste hispanique," in Objectif (Paris), July 1963.

Lovell, Alan, "Luis Buñuel," in Anarchist Cinema , London, 1964.

Hammond, Robert, "Luis Alcoriza and the Films of Luis Buñuel," in Film Heritage (Dayton, Ohio), Autumn 1965.

Milne, Tom, "The Mexican Buñuel," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1965/66.

Kanesaka, Kenji, "A Visit to Luis Buñuel," in Film Culture (New York), Summer 1966.

Harcourt, Peter, "Luis Buñuel: Spaniard and Surrealist," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1967.

Torres, Augusto, "Luis Buñuel/Glauber Rocha: échos d'une conversation," in Cinéma (Paris), February 1968.

"Buñuel Issue" of Jeune Cinéma (Paris), April 1969.

Pechter, William, "Buñuel," in 24 Times a Second , New York, 1971.

"Buñuel Issue" of Image et Son (Paris), May 1971.

"Buñuel Issue" of Cine Cubano , no. 78/80, 1973.

Lyon, E.H., "Luis Buñuel: The Process of Dissociation in Three Films," in Cinema Journal (Evanston, Illinois), Fall 1973.

Fuentes, Carlos, "Spain, Catholicism, Surrealism, and Anarchism: The Discreet Charm of Luis Buñuel," in New York Times Magazine , 11 March 1973.

Murray, S., "Erotic Moments in the Films of Luis Buñuel," in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), July 1974.

" Le Fantôme de la liberté Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), October 1974.

George, G.L., "The Discreet Charm of Luis Buñuel," in Action (Los Angeles), November/December 1974.

Mortimore, R., "Buñuel, Sáenz de Heredia, and Filmófono," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1975.

Conrad, Randall, "The Minister of the Interior Is on the Telephone: The Early Films of Luis Buñuel," in Cineaste (New York), no. 7, 1976.

Conrad, Randall, "A Magnificent and Dangerous Weapon: The Politics of Luis Buñuel's Later Films," in Cineaste (New York), no. 8, 1976.

Cattini, Alberto, "Luis Buñuel" (special issue), Castoro Cinema (Firenze), no. 59, 1978.

Yutkevich, S., "Ein Realist—streng und mitleidlos," in Film und Fernsehen (Berlin), February 1980.

Gazier, M., and others, "Bunuel ou L'Auberge Espagnole," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), special section, Summer-Autumn 1980.

Wood, M., "The Discreet Charm of Luis Buñuel," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), September 1982.

Perez, G., "The Thread of the Disconcerting," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1982–83.

Rubinstein, E., "Visit to a Familiar Planet: Buñuel among the Hurdanos," in Cinema Journal (Chicago), Summer 1983.

McCarthy, T., obituary in Variety (New York), 3 August 1983.

Millar, Gavin, "Buñuel—the Careful Entomologist," in Listener (London), 11 August 1983.

Mayersberg, P., "The Happy Ending of Luis Buñuel," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1983.

"Buñuel Section" of Cinématographe (Paris), September-October 1983.

Yakir, Dan, and others, "Luis Buñuel, 1900–1983," in Film Comment (New York), September-October 1983.

"Buñuel Section" of Positif (Paris), October 1983.

Greenbaum, R., obituary in Films in Review (New York), October 1983.

"Buñuel Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), November 1983.

"Buñuel Issue," of Bianco e Nero (Rome), July-September 1984.

Oms, M., "Memorial pour Don Luis," Cahiers de la Cinémathèque (Perpignan, France), special section, vol. 38–39, Winter 1984.

"Luis Buñuel," in Film Dope (London), March 1985.

Carrière, Jean-Claude, "Les aventures du sujet," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1985.

" Cet objet obscur de desir Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), November 1985.

Poplein, Michael, "Wuthering Heights and Its 'Spirit'," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), vol. 15, no. 2, 1987.

Taves, B., "Whose Hand? Correcting a Buñuel Myth," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1987.

Comuzio, C. "Le radici di Bunuel nelle sue poesie," in Cineforum (Bergamo), vol. 29, November 1989.

Durgnat, R., "Theory of Theory—and Bunuel the Joker,"in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), vol. 44, no. 1, 1990.

Hommel, M., "Bunuel in Mexico," in Skrien (Amsterdam), no. 172, June-July 1990.

Oms, M., "Don Luis le Mexican," in Cinémaction (Conde-sur-Noireau), no. 56, July 1990.

Aub, M., "Portret w ruchu," in Kino (Warsaw), vol. 25, December 1991.

Borau, J. L., "A Woman without a Piano, a Book without a Mark," in Quarterly Review of Film and Video (Langhorne, PA), vol. 13, no. 4, 1991.

Koski, M., and others, "Bunuelia etsimassa," in Filmihullu (Helsinki), special section, vol. 1, 1991.

Gorelik, M., "Shkatulka Luisa Buniuelia," in Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 6, 1992.

Amiel, V., "Entretien avec Jean-Claude Carriere," in Positif (Paris), no. 392, October 1993.

Aranda, J. F., "Luis Bunuel ecrivain," in Revue Belge du Cinéma (Brussels), no. 33–34-35, 1993.

Daney, S., "Luis Bunuel," in EPD Film (Frankfurt/Main), vol. 10, August 1993.

Isaac, A., "Gabriel Figueroa habla sobre Luis Bunuel," in Dicine (Mexico City), no. 50, March 1993.

Jousse, T., "Bunuel face a ce qui se de robe," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 464, February 1993.

Malaguti, C., "Bunuel messicano: la lente rovesciata dell'entomologo," in Cineforum (Bergamo), vol. 33, May 1993.

Perez Turrent, T., and J. de la Colina, "Entretiens avec Luis Bunuel," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 464, February 1993.

Irwin, Gayle, "Luis Buñuel's Explicador: Film, Story, and Narrative Space," Canadian Journal of Film Studies (Ottawa), vol. 4, no. 1, Spring 1995.

On BUÑUEL: films—

Bazin, Jeanine, and André Labarthe, Cinéastes de notre temps , for television, 1967.

Labarthe, André, Luis Buñuel , with interview with Georges Sadoul, Paris, 1967.


* * *


For all the critical attention (and furious critical controversy) his work occasioned over half a century, Luis Buñuel resisted our best taxonomical efforts. To begin with, while no artist of this century strikes one as more quintessentially Spanish than Buñuel, how can one apply the term "Spanish filmmaker" to a man whose oeuvre is far more nearly identified with France and Mexico than with the land of his birth? By the same token, can one speak of any film as "typical" of the man who made both L'Age d'or and Nazarín , both Los olvidados and Belle de jour , both Land without Bread and Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie? Nonetheless, from Un Chien andalou to Cet obscur objet du désir , a Buñuel film is always (albeit, as in many of the Mexican pieces of the 1940s and 1950s, only sporadically), a Buñuel film.

Perhaps the easiest way to deal with Buñuel's career is to suggest that certain avatars of Luis Buñuel may be identified at different (if sometimes slightly overlapping) historical periods. The first Luis Buñuel is the surrealist: the man who slit eyeballs ( Un Chien andalou ), the man to whom blasphemy was less a matter of specific utterances and gestures than a controlling style out of which might emerge new modes of feeling and of expression ( L'Age d'or ), the man who documentarized the unimaginable ( Land Without Bread ) and finally, the man who demonstrated more clearly than any other that surrealist perspectives demanded cinematographic realism. The second Luis Buñuel (and the saddest, and much the least identifiable, now as then) is the all-but-anonymous journeyman film professional: the collaborator, often unbilled and almost always unremarked, on Spanish films which to this day remain unknown to any but the most dogged researchers; the archivist and adapter and functionary in New York and Hollywood; the long-term absentee from the world's attention. The third is the Mexican director, the man who achieved a few works that at the time attracted varying degrees of notice outside the sphere of Latin American commercial distribution ( Los olvidados, Él, Archibaldo de la Cruz, Robinson Crusoe ) but also of others that at the time attracted no notice at all. The fourth is the Luis Buñuel who gradually made his way back to Europe by way of a few French films made in alternation with films in Mexico; and who then, with Viridiana , returned to appall, and so to reclaim, his native land; and who thenceforth, and no matter where or under what conditions he operated, persuasively reasserted himself as a figure of unmistakable moment in world cinema. The last Luis Buñuel, following his emergence in the mid-1960s, was the past master, at once awesome and beloved, as serene in his command of his medium as he was cheerfully intrepid in his pursuit of whatever of value might be mined from the depths of the previously unexplored.

Each of the Buñuels of the preceding catalogue, except for the obscure and essentially uncreative second one, is manifest, or at least implicit, in the others. Even in his Mexican work, which included some otherwise less than exalted assignments (and Buñuel himself, unlike certain of his more indiscriminate adulators, was perfectly willing to acknowledge that much of his Mexican work was shoddy or aborted or simply dull), the scion of surrealism showed his hand. There are several astonishing dream sequences, of course: the vision of slabs of raw meat hanging from the racks of a Mexico City streetcar ( La ilusión viaja en tranvía ), the incongruous verticality of the skeletal skyscrapers rising from the Mexico City slums ( Los olvidados ), and the necrophiliac ragings at the end of the Buñuel version of Wuthering Heights ( Abismos de pasión ). At the same time, it was in his Mexican studio movies, with their often absurdly brief shooting schedules, that Buñuel developed the unobtrusive but sovereign sway over narrative continuity and visual construction that so exhilarates admirers of such later works as Le Journal d'une femme de chambre or Cet obscur objet du désir. (According to Francisco Aranda, Alfred Hitchcock in 1972 called Buñuel "the best director in the world.")

Similarly, one may recognize in Tristana that same merciless anatomy of a specific social milieu, and in The Exterminating Angel that same theme of inexplicable entrapment, that one first encountered in Land Without Bread. In El rio y la muerte a man, all of him save his head imprisoned in an iron lung, submits to a round of face-slapping. We recognize in the image (and in the gasp of laughter it provokes) something of the merciless attack on our pieties of Buñuel's early surrealist works and something of the more offhand wicked humor of, say, Le Charme discret. When such a recognition is reached, we know that the variety of styles and accents in which Buñuel addressed us over the years is almost irrelevant. The political and social (or anti-social) canons of early surrealism could not contain him, nor could the foolish melodramatic conventions of some of his Mexican films stifle his humor, nor could the elegant actors and luxurious color cinematography of some of the later French films finally seduce him. Against all odds, his vision sufficed to transcend any and all stylistic diversions.

"Vision," perhaps the most exhausted word in the critical vocabulary, struggles back to life when applied to Buñuel and his camera. In the consistent clarity of its perception, in its refusal to distinguish between something called "reality" and something called "hallucination," Buñuel's camera always acts in the service of a fundamental surrealist principle, one of the few principles of any kind that Buñuel was never tempted to call into question. Whether focused on the tragic earthly destiny of an inept would-be saint ( Nazarín ) or on the bizarre obsessions of an inept would-be sinner (the uncle in Viridiana , among a good many others), Buñuel's camera is the instrument of the most rigorous denotation, invoking nothing beyond that which it so plainly and patiently registers. The uncertainties and ambivalences we may feel as we watch a Buñuel film arise not from the camera's capacity to mediate but from the camera's capacity to record: our responses are inherent in the subjects Buñuel selects, in those extremes of human experiences that we recognize as his special domain.

—E. Rubinstein



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