Ensayo de un Crimen (The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz 1955) and Pedro’s slow-motion dream in Los Olvidados.
Lured by the New Spanish Cinema movement that emerged during the ‘apertura’ period of the Franco regime, Buñuel returned to Spain to film Viridiana in 1960 under the initial approval of the government who green-lit the production with minimal script changes. The Vatican went on to condemn the film as blasphemous while Franco’s regime attempted to suppress its release once they realized Buñuel had smuggled a different cut of the film out of the country for its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite their efforts, Viridiana won the Palme D’ Or and cemented Buñuel as an international auteur. The 1960s became the apex of Buñuel’s career, a period in which he directed his most acclaimed Mexican and French masterpieces, including El ángel exterminador (The Exterminating Angel 1962), Le journal d’une femme de chambre (Diary of a Chambermaid 1964), Simón del desierto (Simon of the Desert 1965) and the most successful film of his career Belle de Jour (1967), where Catherine Deneuve famously played a housewife who leads a double life as a prostitute while her husband is at work. In 1970, he returned to Spain once again to direct Tristana, another Benito Pérez Galdós adaptation, this time forced to adhere to the censors’ demands in order to avoid a repeat of the Viridiana scandal ten years earlier. He won the 1972 Oscar for Foreign Language Film for Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie, a French film about a group of rich friends who can’t seem to be able to get together for dinner – the antithesis of the dilemma facing the Mexican dinner guests in El ángel exterminador who can’t seem to leave a dinner party after finishing their meal. His last film, Cet obscur objet du désir (That Obscure Object of Desire 1977), is known for featuring two different actresses playing the same role in alternating scenes. Buñuel passed away in 1983 after writing his autobiography aptly titled My Last Sigh. Frugal in production, as he was known for shooting his films quickly, in order, and in strict adherence to the script, Buñuel’s cinema is an attempt to project unto the screen the unfiltered thoughts of a mind liberated from the confines of rational thinking. A fervent atheist, a surrealist beyond surrealism and a social revolutionary, he produced images that battled against institutions that he believed conspired to imprison the poetry of primal urges, sexual and basic, which he unleashed upon any group who sought to suppress them.
The Discreet Charm of