I have fairly scattered memories of my three years as an undergrad, but this image right here from Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, the one of a fucking razor blade cutting across Simone Mareuil’s eye, the one that sends shivers down my spine every time it pops into my head (which, surprisingly, is more times than would be considered normal), yeah, this one takes me right back into that Old Geology Lecture Theatre, where I spent hours watching a collection of the most influential and not-so-influential, strange and not-so-strange, extremely boring and not-so-boring films of the past one hundred years. I suppose it is a testament to Buñuel’s brilliance that out of the many hundreds of hours of lectures and the thousands of essay words written, he is the one person/subject that has not sifted through the sieve that is my ‘university brain.’
Regarded as the father (grandfather, brother and uncle) of surrealist cinema, Buñuel died in July 1983, leaving behind thirty-two films and one hell of a legacy. Un Chien Andalou, is surrealism in its purist, but Viridiana, is quite possibly my favourite of his films. The context and time in which it was made just adds so much to its fascination for me. After twenty-four years in political exile, Buñuel returned to Spain to make a film about a novice nun who visits her uncle before taking her vows, only to be drugged and raped by him. Needless to say, Franco was not happy (Jan)*. Somehow, Buñuel managed to create a social commentary piece on a country cut off from the rest of the world by its Fascist regime, in said fascist’s own backyard and then slip it straight past his censors. Some sort of genius, definitely. But I wouldn’t really expect anything less from a man who used to dress up as a nun, along with Frederico Garcia Lorca, board trams and then proceed to wink and nudge at male passengers.
The Spanish Film Festival is paying tribute to one of the most important directors EVER on the 25th anniversary of his death, spotlighting his films for this year’s festival, including Un Chien Andalou and Viridiana. The festival is also presenting an exhibit that has me counting down till the end of the month when I can finally run across the road and get me some lunchtime brain food. The exhibition, Buñuel – Amigos y Peliculas, is (hopefully) a fascinating selection of photos, letters and posters from the Centro Buñuel de Calanda in Spain.
So, if you too would like the image of an eye ball being sliced in half as firmly ingrained into your subconscious as it is in mine…
Buñuel – Amigos y Peliculas is showing at Sydney Customs House from April 29 till May 24.
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