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Thursday, July 29, 2010

L'Âge d'Or (1930) directed by Luis Buñuel and written by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali

L'Âge d'Or (French pronunciation: [lɑʒ dɔʁ], English: The Golden Age) is a 1930 surrealist film directed by Luis Buñuel and written by Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, who was also credited as co-creator of Luis Buñuel's surrealist film, Un Chien Andalou.
L’age d’or was performed at Studio 28 in Paris in 1930 and is partly based on the Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. The film became Buñuel's solo project after a falling-out he had with Dali 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.
Fascist and anti-Semitic groups staged a stink bomb and ink-throwing riot in the Paris theater where it was shown. Although negative aspects of society were being thrown into the life of Dalí and obviously affecting the success of his artwork, it did not hold him back from expressing his own ideas and beliefs in his art and Buñuel eventually would come to be regarded as one of the finest directors in the history of cinema. Both of these films, Un Chien Andalou and L’age d’or, have had a tremendous impact on the independent surrealist film movement.

"If Un Chien Andalou stands as the supreme record of Surrealism's adventures into the realm of the unconscious, then L'Âge d'or is perhaps the most trenchant and implacable expression of its revolutionary intent."

-Robert Short
"The Age of Gold: Surrealist Cinema, Persistence of Vision" Vol. 3, 2002

The film cost a million francs to produce and was financed by the nobleman Vicomte Charles de Noailles, who beginning in 1928 commissioned a film every year for the birthday of his wife Marie-Laure de Noailles. When it was first released, there was a storm of protest. The film premiered at Studio 28 in Paris on 29 November 1930 after receiving its permit from the Board of Censors. In order to get the permit, Buñuel had to present the film to the Board as the dream of a madman.

On 3 December 1930, a group of incensed members of the fascist League of Patriots threw ink at the screen, assaulted members of the audience, and destroyed art works by Dalí, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy and others on display in the lobby.

On 10 December, the Prefect of Police of Paris, Jean Chiappe, arranged to have the film banned after the Board of Censors reviewed the film. A contemporary Spanish newspaper condemned the film as “...the most repulsive corruption of our age... the new poison which Judaism, masonry, and rabid, revolutionary sectarianism want to use in order to corrupt the people.”

The Noailles family pulled the film from distribution for nearly 50 years. In 1933, it was screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, but the film did not have its official United States premiere until 1–15 November 1979 at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco.

The film consists of a series of tightly interlinked vignettes, the most sustained of which details the story of a man and a woman who are passionately in love. Their attempts to consummate their passion are constantly thwarted, by their families, by the Church and bourgeois society in general. In one notable scene, the young girl passionately fellates the toe of a religious statue.

In the final vignette, the place card narration tells of an orgy of 120 days of depraved acts (a reference to the Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom) and tells us that the survivors of the orgy are ready to emerge. From the door of a castle emerges the Duc de Blangis, who strongly resembles Christ, with his long robes and beard. When a young girl runs out of the castle, the Duc comforts the girl, before taking her back into the castle. A scream is heard and the Duc emerges again, his beard mysteriously vanished. The film suddenly cuts to its final image, with the scalps of the women flapping in the wind on a crucifix, accompanied by jovial music. It has been suggested that this, along with scenes of violent expression earlier in the film as the lovestruck protagonist is manhandled along by two enforcers, may suggest that the film's message is that sexual repression, whether propagated by civil bourgeois society or by the church, breeds violence. This scene is alluded to in the opening sequence, which is an excerpt from a short science film about a scorpion. There we are informed that scorpions have five prismatic articulations, culminating in a sting.

* Gaston Modot as The Man
* Lya Lys as the Young Girl
* Caridad de Laberdesque as a Chambermaid and Little Girl
* Max Ernst as the Leader of men in cottage
* Josep Llorens Artigas as (Governor)
* Lionel Salem as Duke of Blangis
* Germaine Noizet as Marquise
* Duchange as Conductor

The film's illustrations were created by Luis Ortiz Rosales.


There are two sources below from which you can watch the film. The first window below offers the full film uncut. The rest of the windows below that feature the film cut into segments. The segmented version appears to be higher resolution. Enjoy!

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