The Age of Gold…

This edition is dedicated to Luis Bunuel and his friend, Garcia Lorca… You will find media files of import to Bunuel’s early career as a film maker… Take your time with this one, and I hope you enjoy it.

Blessings…

Gwyllm

City That Does Not Sleep

Federico García Lorca

In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.

Nobody is asleep.

The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.

The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,

and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the

street corner

the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the

stars.

Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.

Nobody is asleep.

In a graveyard far off there is a corpse

who has moaned for three years

because of a dry countryside on his knee;

and that boy they buried this morning cried so much

it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!

We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth

or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead

dahlias.

But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;

flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths

in a thicket of new veins,

and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever

and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day

the horses will live in the saloons

and the enraged ants

will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the

eyes of cows.

Another day

we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead

and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats

we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.

Careful! Be careful! Be careful!

The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,

and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention

of the bridge,

or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,

we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes

are waiting,

where the bear’s teeth are waiting,

where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,

and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.

Nobody is sleeping.

If someone does close his eyes,

a whip, boys, a whip!

Let there be a landscape of open eyes

and bitter wounds on fire.

No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.

I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.

But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the

night,

open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight

the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

Translated by Robert Bly

______________

The Links:

The Obligatory Blapunkt Commercial…

Dear Doctor

A Brief Introduction is in Line….:Bunuel…

_______

A Certain Dog From Andalusia…

A review of Un Chien Andalou…

by Michael Koller

Michael Koller is the executive programmer for The Melbourne Cinémathèque and co-curator of The National Cinémathèque program. Un Chien Andalou

Un Chien Andalou (1928 France 17 mins)

Source: CAC/NLA Prod Co: Ursulines Film Studio Prod, Dir, Ed: Louis (Luis) Bunuel Scr: Louis (Luis) Bunuel, Salvador Dali Ph: Duverger (Albert Dubergen) Assist Dir: Pierre Batcheff Art Dir: Schilzneck

Cast: Simonne (Simone) Mareuil, Pierre Batchef (Batcheff), Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali

[Note on the opening credits: all names in the original credits are incorrectly spelt except for Dali’s name. The incorrect spelling, with its correction in parenthesis, is included above for the sake of completeness. Additional credits are also included.]

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”

– Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Un Chien Andalou was the calling card of two desperate, unknown Spanish artists. It “came from an encounter between two dreams.” (1) The script was an easy and joyful joint collaboration between Buñuel and Dali (Buñuel would continue to write scripts in collaboration for the rest of his life), and Buñuel shot the film quickly over two weeks on a small budget supplied by his mother. Dali later claimed to have had a greater involvement in the filming, but by all contemporaneous accounts this does not seem to have been the case.

The film illustrates Buñuel’s awesome ability as a fledgling filmmaker and served as a calling card for Buñuel and Dali into the elite club of the surrealists. After just over seventy years, the remarkable opening sequence still retains its power: “Once upon a time.” the introductory title proclaims. A proletarian Buñuel, feverishly puffing a cigarette, sharpens the blade of a razor. He cuts his fingernail to prove it is sharp. He exits the room for a balcony and looks at the full moon. A slither of a cloud is about to bisect the moon. Buñuel forces open wide the eye of a woman who has appeared from nowhere. The cloud cuts across the surface of the moon and the razor slices the eye apart. There is a second title, “Eight years later,” which like all of the titles in the film is paradoxical and seemingly irrelevant.

This sequence still shocks and it is purported that Buñuel, although the originator of the idea and the images, was nauseated the first few times he viewed the scene. (2) This is the most famous sequence but it is also the key to the rest of the film. As Jean Vigo so profoundly stated: “Can there be any spectacle more terrible than the sight of a cloud obscuring the moon at its full? The prologue can hardly have one indifferent. It tells us that in this film we must see with a different eye.” (3)

It is with this different perspective that the film must be viewed. One sequence leads seductively to the succeeding one, objects from one shot reappear in the next, a process of free association occurs; the illusion of a narrative of sorts develops. Dali stated in 1928, of the film’s theme: “the pure and correct line of ‘conduct’ of a human who pursues love through wretched humanitarian, patriotic ideals and the other miserable workings of reality.” (4) This seems to be the general perspective of most writers discussing the film. Nevertheless, Buñuel offered an alternative explanation: “Our only rule was very simple: No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted. We had to open all doors to the irrational and keep only those images that surprised us, without trying to explain why.” (5)

Buñuel wanted to shock and insult the intellectual bourgeoisie. Buñuel later said, “Historically the film represents a violent reaction against what in those days was called ‘avant-garde,’ which was aimed exclusively at artistic sensibility and the audience’s reason.” (6) His film was to be ‘a gob of spit in the face of art,’ as Henry Miller, an obsessed supporter of Un Chien Andalou, was later to describe his own Tropic of Cancer. To achieve this, Buñuel and Dali made a film that was open to a myriad of interpretations, rendering such analyses redundant. The crutch of understanding through narrative or theme is useless. As Dali explained, the intention of the film was, “To disrupt the mental anxiety of the spectator,” and one of the easiest ways to do this is to thwart the viewer’s ability to logically interpret proceedings. (7) In the film, as in dreams, there is a dislocation of time and space. The disruption of time predominantly occurs through the use of the intertitles which almost appear to be a key to an understanding of the film. The dislocation of space occurs through the opportunistic use of locations. A street and a beach occupy the same space outside the room, itself the central location of the film. What is necessary is to accept the film for what it is.

Yet most critics desire to increase our comprehension and ability to access the film through interpretation. As the film is made by a surrealist, psychoanalysis comes to the fore as an interpretative method. Yet interpretation is ultimately pointless. The most effective manner in which to appreciate the film is to allow the images to seduce, to watch with your eyes and emotions and not to seek an explanation.

This is a first film by two relatively young intellectuals and it is striking. Yet for all its critical and financial success, it never truly achieved its aim of outraging or affronting middle-class sensibilities. (8) Although there are reports of disruptions of screenings, these seem to be based on false memories of events surrounding the release of Buñuel’s next film, L’Age d’Or (1930), where the blasphemy and perversion quotient was increased. L’Age d’Or was banned, but Buñuel was disappointed by the bourgeoisie’s reception of Un Chien Andalou. He would later justify their response by stating, “What can I do about the people who adore all that is new, even when it goes against their deepest convictions, or about the insincere, corrupt press, and the inane herd that saw beauty or poetry in something which was basically no more than a desperate impassioned call for murder?” (9) Yet Sergei Eisenstein, on viewing the film in Switzerland in August 1929 stated that the film exposed, “the extent of the disintegration of bourgeois consciousness.” (10) Was Eisenstein far from the truth? Buñuel was raised as a member of the feudal gentry in a pious and disciplined Catholic Spain, and although exiled by Franco’s regime, he was, by the 1950s, increasingly accepting of Franco, even saying controversially in 1983, “I am even prepared to believe that he [Franco] kept Spain out of World War Two.” (11)

Un Chien Andalou was, as were many of Buñuel’s later films, a huge success amongst the French bourgeoisie, and a parallel can be seen between the careers of Buñuel and Chabrol. Chabrol is a self-confessed bourgeois who hates the complacency of his class. His films are deeply critical of the bourgeoisie yet his films have always benefited from the patronage of the middle-class. The same can be said of Buñuel. This can also be seen in Buñuel’s uneasy relationship with the Catholic church. Undoubtedly the blasphemous content of his first two shorts contributed to Buñuel’s banishment from Spain, and his ongoing vitriolic criticism of the Catholic church maintained the enmity of Franco’s government. But Nazarin (1958), about a saintly but impractical priest’s inability to improve the living conditions of the destitute peasants around him, nor to influence their hypocritical values, won an ecumenical prize from the International Catholic Cinema Office.

Buñuel always liked to shock. The eye-slicing in Un Chien Andalou, and Christ portrayed as the Duo de Blangis (obviously the Marquis de Sade) in L’Age d’Or are prime examples of this. Referring to Un Chien Andalou in 1983, Buñuel wrote, “I suggested that we [the surrealists of 1929] burn the negative… something I would have done without hesitation had the group agreed. In fact I’d still do it today; I can imagine a huge pyre in my own little garden where all my negatives and all the copies of my own films go up in flames. It wouldn’t make the slightest difference.” (12) Yet, for someone so nonchalant about his work, it is revealing that in the 1960s Buñuel created the sonorised version of Un Chien Andalou, based on the original music (Wagner, a South American tango) used for its original release.

How does Un Chien Andalou fit into the body of Buñuel’s work? As with all of Buñuel’s films, Un Chien Andalou illustrates Buñuel’s obsessions and is replete with references to his upbringing. Recurrent reference points are surrealism and religion, as already mentioned, seasoned with violence and a willingness to shock. Images from Spain appear regularly throughout his work as do images of the poor and suffering. It was Buñuel’s only silent film and perhaps for this reason appears more dynamic than his other works. Along with L’Age d’Or and Las Hurdes (1933), the film is very explicit and confrontational. These three films are exercises in style and form. It is here that Buñuel learnt his craft, but thereafter, as Freddy Buache has said, Buñuel could still shock but “He preferred to bury his explosives blandly beneath the surface of an apparently traditional style.” (13) However, this could be misconstrued. Rene Clair’s surrealist Entr’acte (1924), made four years before Un Chien Andalou, has a greater appreciation of, and daring use of style. It does make Buñuel’s film look traditional by comparison. Yet, for a film made as a companion piece to a Dadaist ballet, it lacks Un Chien Andalou’s grace and fluidity. Clair may be the greater stylist, but Buñuel is the greater filmmaker.

Endnotes:

1. Luis Buñuel in his autobiography, My Last Breath, Jonathan Cape, London, 1983, p.103

2. John Baxter, Buñuel, Fourth Estate Books, London, 1995, p.82

3. Jean Vigo, “Un Chien Andalou,” Vers un Cinéma Social, trans. Marianne Alexander, 1930, reprinted in L’Age d’Or and Un Chien Andalou, Lorrimer Publishing, 1968, p.81

4. Dali, quoted in Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1972, p.391

5. Buñuel, p.103

6. Buñuel quoted in Art in the Cinema, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1947

7. Salvador Dali quoted in Francisco Aranda, Luis Buñuel: A Critical Biography, Secker & Warburg, London, 1975, p.64

8. The film ran for eight months in Paris yet Buñuel never recouped his original investment due to dubious accountancy practices utilised by the exhibitor.

9. Luis Buñuel in his preface to the script in La Révolution Surréaliste no. 12, December 1929.

10. Sergei Eisenstein quoted in Baxter, p.100

11. Buñuel quoted in Baxter, p.243

12. Buñuel, p.110

13. Freddy Buache, The Cinema of Luis Buñuel, The Tantivy Press, London, 1973, p.10

_______

L’AGE D’OR [1930]

A review of L’Age d’Or (1930) …

by Bill Mousoulis

Buñuel’s debut feature L’Age d’Or is extremely funny and extremely

sexy. A passion play about the travails of love (or l’amour fou,

though one wonders exactly what the “mad” thing is) in the bourgeois

world, it combines a clear-cut narrative (a man and a woman are

continuously thwarted in their attempts to make love) with bizarre,

random set pieces (the death throes of a ragged band of soldiers;

the killing of a child; a man walking through a park with a loaf of

bread on his head; a hair-adorned wooden cross; etc.) L’Age d’Or

The film functioned as a Surrealist statement at the time, typically attacking the bourgeoisie and the Church. Now, L’Age d’Or still remains remarkably fresh, its violence incredibly salutary, its devilry magnificent.

It attacks the bourgeoisie both from the outside (as when two drunken yobs on a rickety horse and cart pass through the loungeroom where an upper-class party is taking place) and the inside (our hero is a ministerially-appointed “Ambassador of Good Will”, and our heroine the daughter of a Marquise). And there’s a glorious attack on Christianity in the closing sequence.

Our heroic, nameless couple, the Man (Gaston Modot) and Woman (Lya Lys), are in the throes of an intense, unconsummated desire all through the film. The erotic charge on display is exemplary: Modot looks in a store window at an advertising photo of a woman leaning back in a chair, and the film dissolves to Lys in the same pose. She then looks into her dressing-table mirror, and the infinite sky replaces her reflection, and she experiences a sublime psycho-sexual longing. Compared to this, the spiritual connection between the lovers in L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934) is somewhat mild and homely. Imagine what more Buñuel could have achieved in the ’30s (think of Renoir) had he been given the chance …

L’Age d’Or is one of the cinema’s great “shock” films. At the time, it was accompanied by a manifesto. It needs no such justifications or provocations now. All one has to do is to watch it, and its power and passion literally explode off the screen.

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The Age of Gold: Lorca

Garcia with his Lover, Salvador…

Ditty of First Desire

In the green morning

I wanted to be a heart.

A heart.

And in the ripe evening

I wanted to be a nightingale.

A nightingale.

(Soul,

turn orange-colored.

Soul,

turn the color of love.)

In the vivid morning

I wanted to be myself.

A heart.

And at the evening’s end

I wanted to be my voice.

A nightingale.

Soul,

turn orange-colored.

Soul,

turn the color of love.

———

The Faithless Wife

So I took her to the river

believing she was a maiden,

but she already had a husband.

It was on St. James night

and almost as if I was obliged to.

The lanterns went out

and the crickets lighted up.

In the farthest street corners

I touched her sleeping breasts

and they opened to me suddenly

like spikes of hyacinth.

The starch of her petticoat

sounded in my ears

like a piece of silk

rent by ten knives.

Without silver light on their foliage

the trees had grown larger

and a horizon of dogs

barked very far from the river.

Past the blackberries,

the reeds and the hawthorne

underneath her cluster of hair

I made a hollow in the earth

I took off my tie,

she too off her dress.

I, my belt with the revolver,

She, her four bodices.

Nor nard nor mother-o’-pearl

have skin so fine,

nor does glass with silver

shine with such brilliance.

Her thighs slipped away from me

like startled fish,

half full of fire,

half full of cold.

That night I ran

on the best of roads

mounted on a nacre mare

without bridle stirrups.

As a man, I won’t repeat

the things she said to me.

The light of understanding

has made me more discreet.

Smeared with sand and kisses

I took her away from the river.

The swords of the lilies

battled with the air.

I behaved like what I am,

like a proper gypsy.

I gave her a large sewing basket,

of straw-colored satin,

but I did not fall in love

for although she had a husband

she told me she was a maiden

when I took her to the river.

——-

Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias

(fragment)

1. Cogida and death

At five in the afternoon.

It was exactly five in the afternoon.

A boy brought the white sheet

at five in the afternoon.

A frail of lime ready prepared

at five in the afternoon.

The rest was death, and death alone

at five in the afternoon.

The wind carried away the cottonwool

at five in the afternoon.

And the oxide scattered crystal and nickel

at five in the afternoon.

Now the dove and the leopard wrestle

at five in the afternoon.

And a thigh with a desolate horn

at five in the afternoon.

The bass-string struck up

at five in the afternoon.

Arsenic bells and smoke

at five in the afternoon.

Groups of silence in the corners

at five in the afternoon.

And the bull alone with a high heart!

At five in the afternoon.

When the sweat of snow was coming

at five in the afternoon,

when the bull ring was covered in iodine

at five in the afternoon.

Death laid eggs in the wound

at five in the afternoon.

At five in the afternoon.

Exactly at five o’clock in the afternoon.

A coffin on wheels in his bed

at five in the afternoon.

Bones and flutes resound in his ears

at five in the afternoon.

Now the bull was bellowing through his forehead

at five in the afternoon.

The room was iridescent with agony

at five in the afternoon.

In the distance the gangrene now comes

at five in the afternoon.

Horn of the lily through green groins

at five in the afternoon.

The wounds were burning like suns

at five in the afternoon,

and the crowd was breaking the windows

at five in the afternoon.

At five in the afternoon.

Ah, that fatal five in the afternoon!

It was five by all the clocks!

It was five in the shade of the afternoon!

2. The Spilled Blood

I will not see it!

Tell the moon to come

for I do not want to see the blood

of Ignacio on the sand.

I will not see it!

The moon wide open.

Horse of still clouds,

and the grey bull ring of dreams

with willows in the barreras.

I will not see it!

Let my memory kindle!

Warm the jasmines

of such minute whiteness!

I will not see it!

The cow of the ancient world

passed her sad tongue

over a snout of blood

spilled on the sand,

and the bulls of Guissando,

partly death and partly stone,

bellowed like two centuries

sated with treading the earth.

No.

I do not want to see it!

I will not see it!

Ignacio goes up the tiers

with all his death on his shoulders.

He sought for the dawn

but the dawn was no more.

He seeks for his confident profile

and the dream bewilders him.

He sought for his beautiful body

and encountered his opened blood.

I will not see it!

I do not want to hear it spurt

each time with less strength:

that spurt that illuminates

the tiers of seats, and spills

over the corduroy and the leather

of a thirsty multitude.

Who shouts that I should come near!

Do not ask me to see it!

His eyes did not close

when he saw the horns near,

but the terrible mothers

lifted their heads.

And across the ranches,

an air of secret voices rose,

shouting to celestial bulls,

herdsmen of pale mist.

There was no prince in Seville

who could compare to him,

nor sword like his sword

nor heart so true.

Like a river of lions

was his marvellous strength,

and like a marble toroso

his firm drawn moderation.

The air of Andalusian Rome

gilded his head

where his smile was a spikenard

of wit and intelligence.

What a great torero in the ring!

What a good peasant in the sierra!

How gentle with the sheaves!

How hard with the spurs!

How tender with the dew!

How dazzling the fiesta!

How tremendous with the final

banderillas of darkness!

But now he sleeps without end.

Now the moss and the grass

open with sure fingers

the flower of his skull.

And now his blood comes out singing;

singing along marshes and meadows,

sliding on frozen horns,

faltering soulless in the mist,

stumbling over a thousand hoofs

like a long, dark, sad tongue,

to form a pool of agony

close to the starry Guadalquivir.

Oh, white wall of Spain!

Oh, black bull of sorrow!

Oh, hard blood of Ignacio!

Oh, nightingale of his veins!

No.

I will not see it!

No chalice can contain it,

no swallows can drink it,

no frost of light can cool it,

nor song nor deluge of white lilies,

no glass can cover it with silver.

No.

I will not see it!

Lorca and his good friend, Bunuel

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