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Bunuel and Almodovar

Bunuel and Almodovar

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Published by Ben Burr
This paper was written as a final for a film class centering on the Spanish auteurs Luis Bunuel and Pedro Almodovar. It deals much more with Bunuel than Almodovar though.
This paper was written as a final for a film class centering on the Spanish auteurs Luis Bunuel and Pedro Almodovar. It deals much more with Bunuel than Almodovar though.

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Published by: Ben Burr on Feb 25, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ben Burr Film 471Final Paper The films of Luis Bunuel are probably the most interesting films of anyquasi-mainstream filmmaker in the history of cinema. Every film has its specialqualities to it, but as a filmmaker overall Bunuel has his own styles and themesthat make any of his films identifiable to even a moderately knowledgeablecinema-goer. And it’s these themes especially that set a Bunuel film apart fromeveryone else. To paraphrase Ingmar Bergman, “What’s the point of making afilm if you don’t make a statement with it?” Bunuel made a statement with everyfilm he made, although some films, like
, have Bunuel’s societal critiquesmore hidden than
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
, for instance.Spanish filmmakers, at least the two most prominent Spanish filmmakersof the 20
century (Bunuel and Pedro Almodovar), seem to have a lot to saybecause of the oppressive nature of the country and its culture. Two of themesthat these two filmmakers have in common are a distain for organized religion,namely the Catholic Church, and the hierarchical class system that seems to beespecially prevalent in Spain. They both touch on issues of sexual abuse by theChurch and they both show the upper class in a less than favorable light. Bunuelconstantly attacks the notion of religion, and the notion of God in many of hisfilms, from
The Phantom of Liberty,
but no attacks are as clear asthey are in
Simon of the Desert 
The Milky Way.
Bunuel had a very religion-
filled education and it would turn out that that education would be the basis for his distain for religion and his main way of fighting back at religion. In
Simon of the Desert,
Bunuel seems to pull the mask off of a “saint” and shows that,although you may devote your life to God, it does not necessarily make you agood person. While Simon does pray that the thief’s hands are restored and heblesses many people and prays for many people, he completely blows off hismother, which is in direct contradiction of the “honor thy father and mother”commandment. And on a slightly different religious theme, Bunuel also seems tobe commenting on the impossibility of sainthood, an idea he explored in
a few years earlier. In
, he takes a woman from almostbecoming a nun, to being raped and implying a threesome between her, her cousin and his mistress. In
Simon of the Desert 
, he has Simon being tempted bythe devil numerous times but in Simon’s time period, he resists. When Simon andthe devil go into the future, the temptations are surrounding him and there is nopossible way to avoid them. Bunuel seems to be saying that you can live in thismodern world, but there is no way to survive it. This is also hinted at by the nameof the dance in the club, “Radioactive Flesh.”With
The Milky Way,
Bunuel calls upon his knowledge of religion (and heand his co-writer also did a great deal of research) to take the Church’s ownwords and turn them against them. The main plot of the film was to show hereticsover the ages and what it did was show the hypocrisy of the Church through theages. This is a brilliant move on his part because it deflects the blame off of him.The Church could attack him by saying that he is attacking the Church and he is
desecrating the foundation of the Church but now they cannot because it is thewords from that Church that are doing the desecrating.The theme of social class is prominent in most of Bunuel’s films, if not allof them. His later films, especially
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
, areeither centered on the concept that the high society or ruling class of a cultureare aloof to the world around them. The easiest example to pull from his workswould be from
Discreet Charm.
The bourgeoisie in the film are aimless and theonly real cares that they have in the world are smuggling drugs and having adinner together. The most powerful reoccurring scene in the film is where thegroup of friends are simply walking down a road in the middle of nowhere. Thissimple scene is the heart of Bunuel. He is able to summarize the entire film inthat one image. But while
Discreet Charm
is the most noticeable example of hisdistain for these people, his most interesting exploration of this subject is in
Bellede jour.
Belle de jour 
is my favorite Bunuel film because it seems to be thesimplest and yet one of the most complex. The film centers for the most part onone character, with only a handful of secondary characters, only three of whichseem to have any real development. Mainly, the other characters are there toreveal more about Belle. This is really the only Bunuel film that I have seen that Iwould feel safe labeling as a character study (
would come in as a closesecond). Bunuel takes an upper class housewife and he turns her into amasochistic prostitute. He makes the bourgeois lifestyle seem so empty and soimmoral. And then he shows that that lifestyle is actually the root of most evil, if 

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