Belle de Jour (1967)

Directed By – Luis Buñuel

Screenplay By – Luis Buñuel & Jean-Claude Carriére

Cinematography By – Sacha Vierny

Starring Catherine Deneuve 

101 min.

I’m not sure I completely understand Belle de Jour. The story is clear enough, it’s not that I’m confused as to what happens, but I am unsure as to why it all happens, or at least the Belle de Jour’s decision is so far removed from anything I’d ever decide to do that I simply cannot relate to her. Mostly, it would appear that she has no reason to do what she decides to do. The movie doesn’t set up a series of problems for her to solve by deciding to become a prostitute, she just needs to do it for her and I guess I understand her personal need/desire to become a prostitute but at the same time it goes completely over my head as to why she refuses to get what she needs from her husband who would appear to be willing to give her what ever type of sexual fantasies she needs but she just can’t go to him with those requests.

Belle de Jour is a complex examination what happens when personal demons mix with high society expectations and it all works together to make another Buñuel classic.

God Bless America

L’Age d’Or (1930)

Directed By – Luis Buñuel

Screenplay By – Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí

Cinematography By – Albert Duverger

Starring Gaston Modot & Lya Lys

63 min.

Well this is one that I’m going to have to watch again. I think I understood most of it, but a lot of it is so surreal that it was lost on me during my first viewing. The beginning sequence with the scorpions was fascinating and the ending sequence with the orgy by the clergymen was bizarre. Everything in-between was strange, and yet it did all come together to make a coherent piece, I’m just not quite sure what.

Yeah, this movie was a badass example of how film can be a surreal experience.

God Bless America

Tristana (1970)

Directed By – Luis Buñuel

Screenplay By – Julio Alejandro & Luis Buñuel

Based on the Novel By – Benito Pérez Galdós

Cinematography By – José F. Aguayo

Starring Catherine Deneuve & Fernando Rey

95 min.

Tristana is not as playful as other Buñuel films, but thematically it is deeper than most. What is so great about Buñuel films is that the audience most really watch the entire film to understand the characters. Tristana may be the epitome of that Buñuel characteristic. The characters are not summed up in one scene or act, but are only completed once the movie is. For a modern audience Tristana might be a little too slow in terms of pacing, however, I think the themes presented in the movie and the remarkable character arcs are strong enough to keep a modern viewer interested.

Both Catherine Deneuve and Fernando Rey deserve recognition. Catherine Deneuve plays innocent, beautiful, and deathly sexy all so seamlessly as Tristana. While Fernando Rey is the perfect blend of chivalrous and sleazy as Don Lope.

Every time I watch a Buñuel film I am surprised. Usually it is because of his tactful playfulness but this time I was awed by how he was able to subvert previously established character traits so smoothly that it didn’t hit me how much the characters had changed until the movie was already over. Tristana is not for those without a certain level of patience, but I promise it pays off.