director Luis Buñuel
When you think about a Luis Buñuel film, if you aren’t thinking about ants crawling out of a hand or an eyeball getting sliced with a razorblade, you are perhaps thinking about a dinner party at which all the guests are stuck and can’t leave. And if that is what you are thinking of, then you are thinking of his 1962 film, The Exterminating Angel.
A group of bourgeois rich folk gather at a luxurious mansion for an after Opera dinner party only to find that once in the living room, none of them can leave. Nothing bars their way out, but they cannot move beyond the doorway of the room. They become trapped there for days and weeks. And just as they cannot leave, the outside world cannot set foot on the premises.
It’s classic Modernist absurdism at its best.
There is no reason, or maybe a small trigger of a social faux pas triggers what leads to an utter breakdown of society. It brings to mind the Jean-Paul Sartre quote that “hell is other people.” It certainly is being stuck with them.
Like Viridiana (1961) before it, it’s black humor surrealism. Buñuel’s finest, sharpest, strangest work. At least that I’ve seen so far. Brilliant.