One of cinema’s great iconoclasts and mischief makers, Spanish master Luis Buñuel combined surrealist non sequiturs with taboo-shattering attacks on the bourgeoisie, the church, and social hypocrisy to create some of the most incendiary films of the twentieth century. Perpetually on the cutting edge, he began his career as a member of the French surrealists, collaborating with Salvador Dalí on the scandalous avant-garde landmark L’ÂGE D’OR. After being exiled from Spain, he worked primarily in Mexico for two decades, a period that culminated with the savage satire THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL. It was upon his return to France in the 1960s that Buñuel entered into the extraordinary final phase of his career, producing a string of internationally acclaimed masterpieces—including BELLE DE JOUR, THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, and THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE—in which his outré, straight-from-the-id imagery and scathing commentaries on class, sex, religion, and conventional morality reached new heights of subversive power.
On April 4, 1964, the French television series “Cinéastes de notre temps” presented an episode on filmmaker Luis Buñuel, directed by Robert Valey and produced by Jeanine Bazin and André S. Labarthe. The following are edited excerpts.
Directed by Luis Buñuel • 1954 • United States, Mexico
Starring Dan O’Herlihy
Master director Luis Buñuel’s first color film (and first of only two he made in English) is a fascinating, unjustly neglected adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s classic survival novel. His take on the story—in which the epo...
Directed by Luis Buñuel • 1961 • Spain
Starring Silvia Pinal, Fernando Rey, Francisco Rabal
Banned in Spain and denounced by the Vatican, Luis Buñuel’s irreverent vision of life as a beggar’s banquet is regarded by many as his masterpiece. In it, novice nun Viridiana does her utmost to maintain ...
Directed by Luis Buñuel • 1962 • Mexico
Starring Silvia Pinal, Jacqueline Andere, José Baviera
A group of high-society friends are invited to a mansion for dinner and find themselves inexplicably unable to leave, in Luis Buñuel’s daring masterpiece THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL (EL ÁNGEL EXTERMINADOR)...
Directed by Luis Buñuel • 1965 • Mexico
Starring Claudio Brook, Silvia Pinal
SIMON OF THE DESERT is Luis Buñuel’s wicked and wild take on the life of devoted ascetic Saint Simeon Stylites, who waited atop a pillar surrounded by a barren landscape for six years, six months, and six days, in order...
Directed by Luis Buñuel • 1967 • France
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli
Catherine Deneuve’s porcelain perfection hides a cracked interior in one of the actress’s most iconic roles: Séverine, a Paris housewife who begins secretly spending her afternoon hours working in a b...
Directed by Luis Buñuel • 1974 • France
Starring Michel Piccoli, Jean-Claude Brialy, Monica Vitti
Bourgeois convention is demolished in Luis Buñuel’s surrealist gem THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY. Featuring an elegant soiree with guests seated at toilet bowls, poker-playing monks using religious medals ...