Archive for Luis Bunuel

Primal Screen

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on December 29, 2020 by dcairns

I didn’t particularly enjoy THE ANGEL’S LEAP but this image is nice, and neatly illustrates that thing Luis Bunuel was just saying:

Octavio Paz has said, “But that a man in chains should shut his eyes, the world would explode.” And I could say: But that the white eyelid of the screen reflect its proper light, the Universe would go up in flames. But for the moment we can sleep in peace: the light of the cinema is conveniently dosified and shackled.

I chose to watch this Marseilles-based thriller because I wanted some distraction as my favourite aunt just died from Covid-19, under the most miserable circumstances. It’s not director Yves Boisset’s fault that his film is full of death, hospitals, funerals, making it not perhaps the best distraction you could have. But it’s fairly mindless so it had that in its favour.

It’s a bit more visually attractive than Boisset’s Manchette adaptation, FOLLE A TUER, but much less involving. Basic revenge stuff. Jean Yanne, a good actor, is a rather doughy action hero, Sterling Hayden struggles to express himself in French, but Senta Berger is great as ever and Gordon Mitchell is an interesting screen presence. The only Italian muscleman star with an interesting rather than bland face, and (and this is a surprising thing to find) he wears clothes really well.

The main villain has a preposterous Bondian lair and keeps vultures as pets. Idiot. He gets slung off his balcony and lands on some power lines in front of a drive-in screen, all pretty preposterous (every aspect of it: why would a rich man live over a drive-in?). Boisset’s main visual trope is to track around his characters in a half-circle, which is nice enough but it’s the only thing of note the camera ever does. Like they had a length of curving track and they wanted to get the most out of it.

THE ANGEL’S LEAP stars Jean-Paul Marat; Elisabeth Sibelius; General Jack D. Ripper; Napoleon Bonaparte; Maciste; Victor Maigrat; Eurylochus; Alessio Karenin; and Louise Danton.

Bunuelian

Posted in FILM with tags , on December 18, 2020 by dcairns

Picked up a copy of the old Pelican paperback Film Makers on Film Making. Essays and the like by Edwin S. Porter, D.W. Griffith, Chaplin, Stroheim, Vertov, Cocteau, Resnais, etc.

But Luis Bunuel is the guy who actually blows the roof off. By comparison, everyone else seems to be on their best behaviour. I think I’ll probably post some quotes from the rest — Griffith “predicting” what cinema and society will be like in 2024 is of possible interest — but I have to start with Don Luis.

Octavio Paz has said, “But that a man in chains should shut his eyes, the world would explode.” And I could say: But that the white eyelid of the screen reflect its proper light, the Universe would go up in flames. But for the moment we can sleep in peace: the light of the cinema is conveniently dosified and shackled.

AND

In my opinion, the real responsibility for the spiritual stagnation of cinema lies with the amorphous mass, routinary and conformist, that makes up the audience. The producer limits himself merely to throwing to the beasts the food they demand of him.

AND

The true ‘opium of the audience’ is conformity; and the entire, gigantic film world is dedicated to the propagation of this comfortable feeling, wrapped though it is at times in the insidious disguise of art.

(Italics mine.)

The Underclass Goes to Heaven

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 18, 2020 by dcairns

I now wish I’d seen MIRACLE IN MILAN (directed by Vittorio De Sica, written by Cesare Zavattini) as a kid. Seeing it as an adult, though I was charmed and impressed by much of it, I had the words of Luis Bunuel (in paraphrase) running through my head on a ticker tape: “What is the incentive to get out of poverty if to be poor is to be so noble? Social injustice corrupts on every level — the rich are better able to protect themselves from it.”

Of course one could argue that if a film asks you to believe in a magic, wish-granting dove from heaven, believing in the virtuous residents of a shanty town shouldn’t be too hard. It’s a fable, and doesn’t even take seriously its own fantastic rules.

My two favourite jokes involved human beings used as props, and are arguably too similar to belong in the same film. The rich man, Mr. Mobbi, has a guy in unform hung from his window to keep him notified as to which way the wind is blowing.

And a poor family have attached a cord to their baby, said cord leading to outside the door. Visitors pulls the string to make the baby give out a notification of their arrival.

“Answer the door, the baby’s flying!”

Having failed to see it as a kid, I should certainly have seen it in Bologna, restored, where the crowd reaction might have crushed my inner Bunuelian cynic.