Wednesday, January 29, 2014

L'Age d'Or

Directed and edited by Luis Bunuel and written by Bunuel and Salvador Dali, L’Age d’Or (The Golden Age) is a film that explores the world of modern society in all of its craziness through bourgeois society and in the Roman Catholic Church. Presented in Bunuel and Dali’s idea of surrealism, it is a film that showcases the growing decadence that is emerging in Europe. Starring Gaston Modot and Lya Lys. L’Age d’Or is a strange yet fascinating film from Luis Bunuel.

The film doesn’t really much of a plot as it essentially explores the meeting between a man and a woman in Rome as they engage in bawdy behavior in their bourgeois surroundings. Much of it is told through all sorts of images that play into Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali’s idea of surrealism. The film opens with a story about scorpions as it would be one of many loosely-connected vignettes that all play into this meeting between this man (Gaston Modot) and woman (Lya Lys) where the man was from a ragged group of men disconnected from the world until the bourgeoisie arrive onto the island where these two people fall in love. Though that is the main story, it would feature some strange images that Bunuel would put into the film like a cow on the girl’s bed, fly on a guy’s face, and all sorts of things.

Bunuel’s direction definitely adds to that element of surrealism where it would feature an array of rich images as it would include some inter-card text for exposition and scenes of dialogue. Yet, Bunuel is more concerned with pushing the boundaries of what can be presented in cinema where there’s a moment where the girl is sucking on a religious statue’s toe as it was definitely shocking for its time. Bunuel’s approach to editing also plays up to the film’s offbeat tone with its rhythmic cutting as he would use this to subvert the images that happen as if it would allow the audience to get a double-take in what they had just seen. Bunuel would also use text from Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom to end the film as it plays into that world of decadence. Overall, Bunuel creates a very bizarre yet intriguing film about decadence.

Cinematographer Albert Duverger does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography where its grainy camera-work does manage to convey a richness into the images that are shown in the film. Production designer Alexandre Trauner and set decorator Pierre Schild do fantastic work with the set pieces from the house where a big party is gathered to the final scene based on de Sade‘s book. The sound work of Peter Paul Brauer is amazing for its mixture of sound and sound effects to play into the scenes where nothing is at it seems in its idea of surrealism. The film’s music by Luis Bunuel and Georges van Parys is superb for its array of classical-based music with serene string arrangements to play into its drama and offbeat humor.

The film’s cast mostly consists of friends of Bunuel as it includes Duchange as the conductor, Josep Llorens Artigas as a governor, and Max Ernst as a cottage leader who tries to rally against the bourgeoisie. The film’s best performances definitely go to Gaston Modot and Lya Lys as the boy and girl who fall for each other where they both give very expressive performances as well as do some amazing reactions towards the surreal elements they encounter.

L’Age d’Or is a remarkable film from Luis Bunuel and co-writer Salvador Dali. While it’s not a film for everyone, it is still a very entrancing film for the way it explores the ideas of surrealism and its take on the world of decadence that was emerging in 1930s European bourgeois society. In the end, L’Age d’Or is a sublime film from Luis Bunuel.

Luis Bunuel Films: Un Chien Andalou - Land Without Bread - (Gran Casino) - (The Great Madcap) - Los Olvidados - (Susana) - (La hija de engano) - (Mexican Bus Ride) - (A Woman Without Love) - (El Bruto) - (El) - (Illusion Travels by Streetcar) - (Wuthering Heights (1954 film)) - Robinson Crusoe - (The Criminal Lives of Archibaldo de la Cruz) - (El rio y la muerte) - (Cela S’apelle l’Aurore) - (Death in the Garden) - (Nazarin) - (La Fievre a El Pasao) - (The Young One) - Viridiana - The Exterminating Angels - Diary of a Chambermaid - Simon of the Desert - Belle de Jour -(The Milky Way) - Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie - (The Phantom of Liberty) - (That Obscure Object of Desire)

© thevoid99 2014

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