Luis Buñuel / France/Italy/Spain / 1972 / 102mins
In an era dogged with MP expense debacles, phone hacking allegations and controversial bank executive resignations, it’s no surprise that outrage towards society’s elites grows with every scandal. Luis Buñuel’s 1972 Oscar winning surrealist film charts a collection of high pedigree companions attempting to dine together, however their meals are repeatedly interrupted by increasingly bizarre circumstances. Spliced with these are dream sequences in which the character’s inhibitions are depicted.
As the title indicates, Buñuel feels derisive towards the upper class and there’s great emphasis on the division between “educated” and “common” characters; reluctantance to eat in a restaurant because the food won’t compare to their cooking. However, while the lampooning of their superficial attitudes, (Martini in the wrong glass) is very humorous, Buñuel’s ridicule holds greater subtlety as he questions the bourgeoisie’s ability to succeed; the repeatedly abandoned dinners a metaphor for his own left-wing political dissatisfaction. Buñuel’s shrewdly constructed formula of smudging the line between the film’s surreal reality and the dream’s hyper-surrealism prompts the assimilation of a link between our own world and Buñuel’s. This connection lifts the pompous aristocrat’s veil’s of superiority, exposing their weaknesses and demonstrating their similarities with yourself. By provoking his audience into dismissing the differences between the wealthy and poor, Buñuel stabs at the class system and division it creates.
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