Luis Buñuel's surreal masterpiece from 1972, co-written with Jean-Claude Carrière, is stranger and more sensual than ever. The weirdness under the conventions throbs even more insistently and indiscreetly, now that those conventions themselves are historically distant. We can see with hindsight how Buñuel's subversion absorbed the various modish forms of agitprop and radical chic, and subverted those as well. The action revolves around some half-a-dozen well-to-do metropolitan sophisticates who are forever attempting to meet up for dinner parties and elegant soirees only to find the event ruined by an absent host, or some mysterious misunderstanding, or bizarre turn of events, and then one will awake to find it all to be a dream, yet the distinction between dream and waking does not become any clearer. The surrealist and anthropologist in Buñuel was fascinated by the ritual of the dinner party: without a host, this social event resembles humanity frantically inventing intricate rules for itself in the absence of God. It is still superbly disturbing when everyone assembles around a dinner table in an unfamiliar house and then, when one wall suddenly moves away, they discover themselves to be on stage in a blaze of unnatural light, inspected by an auditorium full of frowning theatregoers. "I don't know my lines," mutters Sénéchal (Jean-Pierre Cassel) to himself in a cold sweat. An exotic and brilliant hothouse flower of a film.
This site is hosted by Burgess Powers