Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Luis Buñuel: Él

I've always loved Luis Buñuel's films, they are very fluent and his direction is almost invisible, yet they are full of surrealistic imagery and atmosphere, even though the events in the films aren't necessarily surrealistic or even weird themselves.

One of Buñuel's best films, to my mind, is this weird little melodrama Él, made in Mexico in 1952. Buñuel's Mexican period clearly was one of his most creative periods, even though there were no dull phases in his career (saying this must mean he's one of the best directors in the history of cinema, almost everyone else had their dull phases). Él is a noir melodrama that's more noir that any American film noir made in 1952 - or any other year from 1933 to 1958 (I'm thinking Touch of Evil here). Él is a hard-hitting drama about a man so jealous he's willing to kill his newly-wed wife for no reason at all, he's just imagining all the things he says his wife is doing behind his back. Yet this is a very funny film, though there's nothing funny about the way the man acts. Buñuel wouldn't be Buñuel, if the film didn't also mock the society and the Catholic church that protect and almost encourage this mad behaviour. Él is a perfect analysis of the narcissistic mind, made almost 50 years before talk about narcissism became commonplace.

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