He followed this with L'Âge d'or (1930), partly based on the Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. The film was begun as a second collaboration with Dalí but became Buñuel's solo project after a falling-out they had before filming began. During this film he worked around his technical ignorance by filming mostly in sequence and using nearly every foot of film that he shot. L'Âge d'or was read to be an attack on Catholicism, and thus, precipitated an even larger scandal than Un chien andalou. The right-wing press criticized the film and the police placed a ban on it that lasted 50 years.
Following L'Âge d'or, Buñuel returned to Spain and directed Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan (Land Without Bread, 1933), a documentary on peasant life. This was a convulse period which led, in 1936, to the Spanish Civil War. The times were changing quickly and Buñuel could see that someone with his political and artistic sensibilities would have no place in a fascist Spain. He co-wrote and produced a documentary short about the changing political climes in Spain entitled España 1936.
In his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (1942), Dalí suggested that he had split with Buñuel because the latter was a Communist and an atheist. Buñuel was fired (or resigned) from MOMA, supposedly after Cardinal Spellman of New York went to see Iris Barry, head of the film department at MOMA. Buñuel then went back to Hollywood where he worked in the dubbing department of Warner Brothers from 1942 to 1946. In his 1982 autobiography [My Last Breath], Buñuel wrote that he submitted a treatment to Warners about a disembodied hand which was later adapted into The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) with Peter Lorre. Buñuel also wrote that, over the years, he rejected Dalí's attempts at reconciliation.
In 1972, Buñuel, along with his screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière and producer Serge Silberman, was invited by George Cukor to his house. This gathering was particularly memorable and other invitees included Alfred Hitchcock, Rouben Mamoulian, Robert Mulligan, George Stevens, Billy Wilder, Robert Wise and William Wyler.
Buñuel spent most of his later life in Mexico, where he directed 21 films. Those films included:
After the release of Cet obscur objet du désir (1977) he retired from film making, and wrote (with Carrière) an autobiography, Mon Dernier Soupir (My Last Sigh), published in 1982, which provides an account of Buñuel's life, friends, and family as well as a representation of his eccentric personality. In it he recounts dreams, encounters with many well known writers, actors, and artists such as Pablo Picasso and Charlie Chaplin, and antics such as dressing up as a nun and walking around town. As one might deduce from these antics, Buñuel was famous for his atheism. In a 1960 interview with Michele Manceaux in L'Express, Buñuel famously declared: "I am still, thank God, an atheist."
Buñuel almost seemed to repudiate this statement in a 1977 article in The New Yorker. "I'm not a Christian, but I'm not an atheist, either", he said. "I'm weary of hearing that accidental old aphorism of mine, 'I'm an atheist, thank God.' It's outworn. Dead leaves. In 1951, I made a small film called Mexican Bus Ride, about a village too poor to support a church and a priest. The place was serene, because no one suffered from guilt. It's guilt we must escape from, not God."
He married Jeanne Rucar in a town hall in Paris in 1934 and they remained married throughout his life. His sons are Rafael and Juan Luis Buñuel. Diego Buñuel, filmmaker and host of the National Geographic Channel's Don't Tell my Mother I am in... series, is his grandson.
He died in Mexico City in 1983.
Buñuel never explained or promoted his work. On one occasion, when his son was interviewed about The Exterminating Angel, Buñuel instructed him to give facetious answers; for example, when asked about the presence of a bear in the socialites' house, Buñuel fils claimed it was because his father liked bears. Similarly, the several repeated scenes in the film were explained as having been put there to increase the running time.
The story of the making of Viridiana is illustrative. Buñuel's earlier Spanish and French films from the 1930s were regarded as cinema landmarks -- Un Chien Andalou, L'Âge d'or, and Las Hurdes (also known as Tierra sin Pan or Land Without Bread) (1933). The advent of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, however, caused the expatriation of many artists and intellectuals from the fascist dictatorship of Franco, whose military revolt and rise to power had had the strong backing of the Spanish Catholic hierarchy.
Had Buñuel stayed in Spain, his fate might have been the same as that of his friend, poet Federico García Lorca, who was assassinated at the outset of Franco's military revolt. After some years of artistic silence forced by the difficult circumstances of his expatriation, Buñuel, then residing in Mexico, returned in full force to writing and directing with some of his best films, which once more won him international acclaim.
In 1960, for political propaganda reasons, Franco instructed his minister of culture to invite the country's most famous filmmaker to return to Spain to direct a film of his choice. Buñuel accepted and proceeded to make Viridiana, promptly departing from the country after finishing the film, but leaving a few official copies. After viewing them, the copies were burned by the dictator's authorities. The minister of culture was reprimanded for having passed the screenplay in the first place. A copy of Viridiana, however, had been smuggled to France, where it proceeded to win the Palme D'Or of the Cannes International Film Festival. The film was banned in Spain, but got international attention and praise (with some exceptions). The Vatican's official press organ, l'Osservatore Romano, published an article calling Viridiana an insult not only to Catholicism, but to Christianity itself.
Buñuel preferred scenes which could simply be pieced together end-to-end in the editing room, resulting in long, mobile, wide shots which followed the action of the scene. Examples are especially present in his French films. For example, at the restaurant / ski resort in Belle de jour, Séverin, Pierre, and Henri are conversing at a table. Buñuel cuts away from their conversation to two young women who walk down a few steps and proceed through the restaurant, passing behind Séverin, Pierre, and Henri, at which point the camera stops and the young women walk out of frame. Henri then comments on the women and the conversation at the table progresses from there.
Buñuel disliked non-diegetic music, and avoided it in his films, though traditional drums from Calanda sound in most of his films. The films of his French era were not scored and some (Belle de jour, Diary of a Chambermaid) contain absolutely no music whatsoever. Belle de Jour does, however, feature (potentially) non-diegetic sound effects, believed by some to be clues as to whether or not the current scene is a dream.
|Original title||English title||Year||Production country||Language||Length||Notes|
|Un chien andalou||An Andalusian Dog||1929||France||French||16 min||Written by Buñuel and Salvador Dalí|
|L'Âge d'or||The Golden Age||1930||France||French||60 min||Written by Buñuel and Salvador Dalí|
|Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan||Land Without Bread||1933||Spain||French||30 min||Documentary/mockumentary.|
|Gran Casino||Magnificent Casino||1947||Mexico||Spanish||92 min|
|El Gran Calavera||The Great Madcap||1949||Mexico||Spanish||92 min|
|Los olvidados||The Forgotten||1950||Mexico||Spanish||85 min|
|Susana||The Devil and the Flesh||1951||Mexico||Spanish||86 min|
|La hija del engaño||The Daughter of Deceit||1951||Mexico||Spanish||78 min|
|Subida al cielo||Ascent to Heaven (Mexican Bus Ride)||1952||Mexico||Spanish||85 min|
|Una mujer sin amor||A Woman Without Love||1952||Mexico||Spanish||85 min|
|El bruto||The Brute||1953||Mexico||Spanish||81 min|
|El||This Strange Passion aka Torments||1953||Mexico||Spanish||92 min|
|La ilusión viaja en tranvía||Illusion Travels by Streetcar||1954||Mexico||Spanish||82 min|
|Abismos de pasión aka Cumbres Borrascosas||Wuthering Heights||1954||Mexico||Spanish||91 min|
|Robinson Crusoe||1954||Mexico||English||90 min|
|Ensayo de un crimen||Rehearsal for a Crime aka The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz||1955||Mexico||Spanish||89 min|
|El río y la muerte||The River and the Death||1955||Mexico||Spanish||91 min|
|Cela s'appelle l'aurore||That is the Dawn||1956||Italy/France||French||102 min|
|La mort en ce jardin||Death in the Garden||1956||France/Mexico||French||104 min|
|La fièvre monte à El Pao||Fever Rises in El Pao aka Republic of Sin||1959||France/Mexico||French||109 min|
|The Young One||1960||Mexico/USA||English||96 min|
|El ángel exterminador||The Exterminating Angel||1962||Mexico||Spanish||95 min|
|Le journal d'une femme de chambre||The Diary of a Chambermaid||1964||France/Italy||French||98 min|
|Simón del desierto||Simon of the Desert||1965||Mexico||Spanish||45 min|
|Belle de jour||1967||France/Italy||French||101 min|
|La Voie Lactée||The Milky Way||1969||France/Italy||French||105 min|
|Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie||The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie||1972||France/Italy/Spain||French||102 min|
|Le fantôme de la liberté||The Phantom of Liberty||1974||Italy/France||French||104 min|
|Cet obscur objet du désir||That Obscure Object of Desire||1977||France/Spain||French||105 min|