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BUÑUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES Directed by Salvador Simo In 1930, surrealist Spanish-born filmmaker and his tiny crew journey to Las Hurdes, the poorest of poor in Spain, for his third documentary, “Land Without Bread”. Animator Salvador Simo tells the young maverick’s story of this adventure in “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles”. The title of this animated film refers to the twisty streets of Las Hurdes, the small stone homes’ roofs remarked upon as looking like turtle shells. Director Salvador Simo, who has done visual effects on such films as “The Jungle Book” and animated segments in 2010’s Allen Ginsberg movie “Howl”, has made an illuminating look into the making of one of Buñuel’s earliest films, “Land Without Bread”. It reveals a Buñuel consumed with jealously of Dali, insistent that he is the preeminent Spanish surrealist as well as obsessed with death, morbidly so when it comes to the animals of the mountainous northern territory. Simo emphasizing Buñuel’s disregard for documentary truth by recreating horrific regional animal fate he hears about by inserting footage from the documentary itself. Another passage shows Buñuel exploiting inbred locals, opening their mouths like horses, then purposely frightening them when they demand a car ride in return for being filmed. Buñuel is tyrannical, paying no heed to the limits of his budget. In “Labyrinth of the Turtles,” there is a flashback to Luis Buñuel’s childhood, and we see him racing to catch-up with a group of drummers in a square. He falls over and his hands are bloodied. When he finally gets the front of the group and starts drumming again, his blood splashes the drum. This leads up to what becomes a very non-traditional way telling of film history. What comes out in this film more than anything else is that it shows Buñuel’s barbaric nature, as well as his eventual sense of redemption. The film regularly returns to dreamscapes that Buñuel would admire, in a way that underlines the internal struggles of the filmmaker at the time, and showing how his visions co-existed with reality. On the plus-side, this documentary is well-made and will appeal to Buñuel afficionados. The second half is much more appealing than the first and warrants to staying in your seat for, but alas not one that I would recommend seeing again.

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