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Mon dernier soupir One of my favourites, as you would expect I'm a massive Buñuel fan, even modeling my drinking and smoking regimens on his advice in this book back in the 80s By turns funny, angry, insightful, and intelligent, but always entertaining. i liked this book farthan i expected to Bunuel is a story teller and his autobiography is not a linear report on dates and names and places instead it is very much a story weaving through time and very personal like a conversation where one thing leads to another associations are made and we don't necessarily end up were we thought we were going to and that is the joy of it plus i really relate to how Bunuel sees the world his chapter entitled Still an Atheist, Thank God! in which he gets rather philosophical well, i completely agree with pretty much every thing he has to say, so there is that it's easy to enjoy reading a book that agrees with your world view right?and, the time period he lives through and describes is one i am fascinated by those years as w.w.one comes to an end and the Russian Revolution is underway and then there is the Spanish Civil war it's Hemingway and the expat generation in Paris disillusioned by the war experimenting with life to forget about all the death there had been and it's Picasso and the Dadist and Surrealist movements wanting to rip tradition apart and let in new life in the aftermath of w.w.one there was for some a great sense of hope that the madness they had been through would create a new world order that is certainly the way the Russian Revolution began and i suspect the Surrealist movement as well, and it is heartbreaking to read about their failures about the surrealist movement, Bunuel says: 'there is no doubt that surrealism was a cultural and artistic success; but these were precisely the area of least importance Their aim was not to establish a glorious place for themselves in the annuals of art and literature, but to change the world, to transform life itself This was our essential purpose, but one good look around is evidence enough of our failure.' and finally, let's not forget that while i have only seen a handful of his films, i think he is a brilliant director and a good writer and he's a smart or rather thoughtful man i just liked reading what he had to say right to the very end the chapter entitled, Swan Song i just liked reading what he had to say. This is a wonderful autobiography of the great film director Luis Bunuel I have watched several of his films and really enjoyed them This book covers his life growing up in Spain, his 36 years living in Mexico City where most of his films were made, as well as times he spent in New York, California and Paris Unfortunately, he died the year after this book was written and published at the age of 83 Anybody who likes his films or just cinema in general, should really enjoy this book. One of the great charming memoirs from an artist who I suspect wasn't that charming in real life But Bunuel was such an incredible force in his medium that he worked in the cinema He had his up's and his down's (Dali not that great as a friend) but he took the cultural big surf as a great surfer and basically made films that were incredibly unique, fun, and wellFantastic There is not one Bunuel that I don't love And I also love this book as well. An article of mine, which appeared at the online academic journal alter/nativas (No.6, 2016) of the Ohio State University U.S.A., proposing a slightly differentthantheusual way of interpretation of Buñuel´s movie 'Exterminating Angel' (1962): Seeing the world through the eyes of Luis Bunuel was very enjoyable Autobiographies are always one of my favorite genres, and this was undoubtedly among the most memorable ones Bunuel’s distinctive character and his subtle sense of humor give the book a different and interesting atmosphere simultaneously Bunuel like other surrealists has anarchistic thoughts and ideas which are frequently mentioned by himself in the book but interestingly according to his wife, he can't even kill a spider at home! This is a good example for understanding his interesting personality If you are not familiar with surrealistic points of view, this book is a great way of getting to know them better. Whimsical and full of digressions this memoir may not be the choice to make for one looking for a walk through Bunuel's life in film What Bunuel gives us is a peek into his childhood in Spain, his life in the Surrealist movement, his experiences during the Spanish Civil War, his life in Mexico and Hollywood, and sprinkles in his many personal likes and dislikes, his thoughts on life and death etc It's as if he wrote it less for the public andfor his descendants; for that great grand child who one day might wonder what the great filmmaker was REALLY like. Luis Buñuel lived many lives surrealist, Spanish Civil War propagandist, hedonist, friend of artists and poets, and filmmaker With surprising candor and wit, Buñuel offers his sometimes scathing opinions on the literati and avant garde members of his sweeping social circle, including Pablo Picasso, Jorge Luis Borges, Salvador Dalí, and Federico García Lorca These colorful stories of his nomadic life reveal a man of stunning imagination and influence.Luis Buñuel (1900 1983) was one of the twentieth century's greatest filmmakers His many credits include Un Chien andalou (1924), which he conceived with Salvador Dalí, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. review of Luis Buñuel's My Last Sigh by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE July 6, 2012 "I'm not a writer, but my friend and colleague JeanClaude Carrière is An attentive listener and scrupulous recorder during our many long conversations, he helped me write this book." When I 1st encountered the historical traces of Surrealism, probably in the early 1970s, maybe even earlier, it was very exciting to me I've always loved the paintings Then, over the yrs, Surrealism just started to seem like Breton's takeover of dadaism Breton's constant elimination of the people from the group for their various ideological 'infractions' rubbed me the wrong way It seemed too authoritarian Add to that that I found much of the writing disappointing in contrast to that of the protoSurrealists like Lautréamont, Jarry, Roussel my interest in enthusiasm for the Surrealists diminished I've still loved the paintings, tho, occasionally wd check out a Buñuel film I hadn't previously witnessed Even Buñuel is someone whose work I've had varying enthusiasm for I haven't liked many of the Mexican films very much, eg But, then, I got this bk, probably free from my movingaway friend Spat, I started reading it in a desultory manner while recouping from an injury , LO BEHOLD!, I love Surrealism all over again hope that I can find the 8 Buñuel films I haven't seen so that I can check them out! In fact, if I watch themthan once I'll be seeing themthan Buñuel ever did according to this final statement of his 1st, I must say, that sick of Surrealism or not, sick of Buñuel or not, "Un Chien andalou" is probably in my top 10 favorite films of all time many others of his are very dear to me indeed: "L'Age d'or", "Tierra sin pan", "The Exterminating Angel" "The Milky Way", "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie", "The Phantom of Liberty", "That Obscure Object of Desire" being, perhaps, the main ones The only Surrealist filmmaker being perhaps eveninteresting to me being, perhaps, Jan Svankmajer Buñuel's career as a filmmaker having spanned the 50 yrs from 1928 to 1977 he's qualified to talk about 1sthand experience w/ many aspects of film's development A particular favorite of mine is the Explicator, the person who explains the movie as it's screened: "In addition to the traditional piano player, each theater in Saragossa was equipped with its explicador, or narrator, who stood next to the screen and "explained" the action to the audience "Count Hugo sees his wife go by on the arm of another man," he would declaim "And now, ladies and gentlemen, you will see how he opens the drawer of his desk and takes out a revolver to assassinate his unfaithful wife!" "It's hard to imagine today, but when the cinema was in its infancy, it was such a new and unusual narrative form that most spectators had difficulty understanding what was happening Now we're so used to film language, to the elements of montage, to both simultaneous and successive action, to flashbacks, that our comprehension is automatic; but in the early years, the public had a hard time deciphering this new pictorial grammar They needed an explicador to guide them from scene to scene." p 32 Now, I love the idea of explication have used it in the 21st century Take, eg, my: "Satanic Liposuction, Neoasm?!, YOU!!" wch has a 'final' version revised to include screening footage from Orgone Cinema 1999 five projector version, 2000 Melbourne Super8 Club version w/ explication reel change tarot reading, 2007 Jefferson Presents explication from S Cannon, John Allen Gibel myself (tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE) I think I can safely say that (v)audiences still often find my own movies difficult to understand even w/ explication b/c they're deliberately designed to stretch the attn reference capacity of the human brain What for some people is a fast succession of incomprehensible images is for others a succession of comprehensible reference points I realize that even if there were to be a human being who cd talk fast enuf to 'explain' these references, it's unlikely there wd be anyone capable of following the speech But that might change I hope that movies like my own might contribute to that change Alas, as much as I loved this bk, I have to say that I was once again disappointed to find that someone whose work I respect was enabled to make it b/c of their wealthy family The refreshing thing is how honest direct Buñuel is about it I became evenconvinced that he was a true "Republican" (as in the Spanish Civil War sense) "I remember my mother weeping with despair when, in 1928 or 1929, I announced my intention of making a film It was as if I'd said: "Mother, I want to join the circus and be a clown." A family friend, a lawyer, had to be enlisted to convince her that there was a lot of money to be made in films In fact, he pontificated, someone might even produce an interesting piece of work on the order of the spectacular Italian films about ancient Greece and Rome (My mother allowed herself to be persuaded, but she never saw the film she'd financed.) p 33 Ha ha! Buñuel Dali's "Un Chien andalou" was financed by Buñuel's rich mom!! "I was having a drink with Claude Jaeger at the Select in Paris one evening and became so outrageously rowdy that all the customers left Only one woman remained behind Not exactly sober, I made my way to her table, sat down, and started talking, announcing to her that she was Russian, that she'd been born in Moscowand after a string of other details, we both simply stared at each other openmouthed we'd never seen each other before!" p 69 I particularly loved this story b/c a very similar thing happened w/ me In 1985 or thereabouts I went on a date of sorts w/ a woman that I didn't know very well we went to a bar had some drinks Given my love of extemporizing, I started rambling on w/ a story about her childhood in Italy basically meant to entertain her I was in just the right mode of relaxation that seems conducive to streamofconsciousness hitting an unintentional mark ANYWAY, she asked me how I cd possibly know all these things My impromptu imaginary description of her childhood in Italy was accurate I didn't even realize that she was from Italy Alas, I've since asked this friend if she remembered that she didn't but I certainly do "Like the señoritos I knew in Madrid, most surrealists came from good families; as in my case, they were bourgeois revolting against the bourgeoisie." p 107 "What fascinated me most, however, in all our discussions at Cyrano, was the moral aspect of the movement For the first time in my life I'd come into contact with a coherent moral system that, as far as I could tell, had no flaws It was an aggressive morality based on the complete rejection of all existing values We had other criteria: we exalted passion, mystification, black humour, the insult, and the call of the abyss Inside this new territory, all our thoughts and actions seemed justifiable; there was simply no room for doubt Everything made sense Our morality may have beendemanding anddangerous than the prevailing order, but it was also stronger, richer, andcoherent." p 107 Now I have mixed feelings about the above It was all too easy for them to scorn existing moral systems insofar as they were mostly welltodo didn't have to interface w/ society in apractical manner They were spoiled brats, intelligent spoiled brats, but spoiled brats nonetheless Just as I scorn William Burroughs' exalted example of the junkie, wch he cd afford as the scion of a wealthy family, so do I scorn any human who provides an example that doesn't acknowledge the level of privilege that enables it But, to Buñuel's credit, Buñuel acknowledges his privilege is also shown as a person whose ethics were deeply felt many of the Surrealists sincerely addressed socioeconomic inequality by participation in the Communist Party Many also left the CP by rejecting its narrowmindedness authoritarianism Buñuel explains this well Nonetheless, the Surrealists bordered a bit too close for comfort to my mind to Nazism The composer George Antheil claims that the Surrealists, who supported his music, punched people who didn't like Antheil's "Ballet Mechanigue" at its Paris premier No doubt the Surrealists were reacting against the oppression of the stodgy to what they considered to be forces of progress Nonetheless, I don't condone bulying by anyone even people I agree w/ otherwise Surrealists made a practice of insulting priests Buñuel, as a Republican, nonetheless reports evenhandedly about the Spanish Civil War's extremities of antiCatholicism: "The priests and the rich landowners in other words, those with conservative leanings, whom we assumed would support the Falange were in constant danger of being executed by the Republicans The moment the fighting began, the anarchists liberated all the political prisoners and immediately incorporated them into the ranks of the Confederación Nacional de Trabajo, which was under the direct control of the anarchist federation Certain members of this federation were such extremists that the mere presence of a religious icon in someone's room led automatically to Casa Campo, the public park on the outskirts of the city where the executions took place People arrested at night were always told that they were going to "talk a little walk."" pp 151152 Now, I'm an anarchist I certainly support the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War I absolutely DETEST religion However, I don't support such mass executions A selective assassination of Hitler, yes, wholesale executions of religious people or anyone else just b/c I disagree w/ them, NO! Does that make me a nambypamby 'moderate'? Hardly People are always in too big of a hurry to kill other people to make a 'revolution' To me, a muchdifficult revolution wd be one where people actually agree to disagree "Despite my ideological sympathies with the anarchists, I couldn't stand their unpredictable and fanatical behavior Sometimes, it was sufficient merely to be an engineer or to have a university degree to be taken away to Casa Campo." p 156 I respect Buñuel not for being bourgeois but for having the sense to recognize the social validity of the anarchist position w/o having to endorse its extremities to 'show' how 'hardcore' he was He had the selfconfidence to remain an individualist The nazis thought they cd change the world by completely eradicating their 'enemy', the Jews Anyone, who thinks they're going to 'improve' the world by killing off their enemies wholesale is thinking along the same lines as Hitler despite propaganda bombast to the contrary Killing the 'enemy' is the same old same old shit that humanity's been disastrously pursuing since day one "Then there was André Derain, tall, wellbuilt, and very popular, who remained somewhat separate from the group [the Surrealists] He was much older than I at least twenty years and often used to talk to me about the Paris Commune He was the first to tell me about men being executed during the fierce repression led by the king's soldiers, simply because they had had calluses on their hands (the stigmata of the working class)." p 122 Oi! I wonder if Pol Pot took inspiration from such stories after all, he was french educated The Khmer Rouge are reputed to've executed people for not having calluses "Bataille's wife, Sylvia, one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen, later married Jacques Lacan." p 122 Small world "May 1968 was a series of extraordinary moments, not the least of which was seeing old surrealist slogans painted everywhere, slogans such as "All power to the imagination!" and "It is forbidden to forbid!" p 125 "I told myself that if this had been happening in Mexico, it wouldn't have lastedthan two hours, and there would surely have been a few hundred casualties to boot, which is exactly what happened, of course, in October on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas And yet in Paris a week later, everything was back to normal, and the great, miraculously bloodless, celebration was over." p 125 "Like me, the students talked a great deal but did very little" p 125 "Did very little"? Perhaps Or perhaps they created some T.A.Z.s (Temporary Autonomous Zones, as Hakim Bey wd put it) showed at least a little of what was possible w/o having to kill anybody wch, as far as I'm concerned, is a great leap forward I've spent much of my life trying to actually do instead of fictionalizing about doing I've often been frustrated by the seemingly common preference for the fictionalization But can I really blame people for playing it safe? In fiction, all sorts of havoc can be wrought w/o its having to be real "Since I knew the name of the leader of this terrorist group, as well as the hotel in Paris where he lived, I contacted the prefect, who was a Socialist, as soon as I got back to the embassy He assured me that they'd pick him right up; but time went by, and nothing happened Later, when I ran into the boss sitting happily with his friends at the Select on the ChampsElysées, I wept with rage What kind of world is this? I asked myself Here's a known criminal, and the police don't want any part of him!" p 162 Shades of Carlos anyone? While my choice of one paragraph out of a muchexplanatory many may be confusing to the reader of this review, suffice it to say that terrorism has always will always be primarily a tool of the state no matter how it's propagandized otherwise In my review of Surreal friends I mention Edward James, a collector of Surrealist artwork I also criticize the authors of that bk as politically naive /or suspect Buñuel's mention of James seems much'streetcredible': "The Englishman, Edward James, had just bought all of Dali's 1938 output, and did indeed want to give the Republicans am ultramodern bomber which was then hidden in a Czechoslovakian airport Knowing that the Republic was dramatically short of air strength, he was making us this handsome present in exchange for a few masterpieces from the Prado." p 164 "Of course, this is risky reasoning If our birth is totally a matter of chance, the accidental meeting of an egg and a sperm (but why, in fact, that particular egg and sperm among all the millions of possibilities?), chance nonetheless disappears when societies are formed, when the fetus and then the child finds himself subjected to its laws." p 172 This is something Stanislav Lem explores in some detail, perhaps in The Chain of Chance, perhaps in A Perfect Vacuum, perhaps in Microworlds, perhaps in all 3 "In the end, belief and the lack of it amount to the same thing If someone were to prove to me right this minute that God, in all his luminousness, exists, it wouldn't change a single aspect of my behavior." p 173 I'm reminded of a philosophical discussion I had w/ my friend Read He made a good case for everything as totally predetermined by what goes before it, I probably debated for other possibilities In the end, we both agreed that it ultimately didn't matter in terms of how we'd conduct our actual lives Buñuel tells a story about an autobiography of Dali's leading to Buñuel's losing a job in the US He then meets Dali in NYC: "He was a bastard, I told him a salaud; his book had ruined my career ""The book had nothing to do with you," he replied "I wrote it to make myself a star You've only got a supporting role."" p 183 "As unlikely as it may sound, I've never been able to discuss the amount of money offered to me when I sign a contract Either I accept or refuse, but I never argue I don't think I've ever done something for money that I didn't want to, and when I don't want to do something, no offer can change my mind What I won't do for one dollar, I also won't do for a million." pp 191192 "Although I had excellent working relationships with my Mexican crews, I had to accept subjects I would normally have refused and work with actors who weren't always right for their roles When all's said and done, however, I never made a single scene that compromised my convictions or my personal morality." p 198 "On several occasions, both American and European producers have suggested that I tackle a film version of Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, a novel set in Cuernavaca." [..] "Other directors besides myself have been tempted by the beauty of the story, but so far no one has made the movie." p 194 John Huston made a film of it the yr after Buñuel died "My last abortive American project was the time Woody Allen proposed that I play myself in Annie Hall He offered me thirty thousand dollars for two days work, but since the shooting schedule conflicted with my trip to New York, I declined, albeit not without some hesitation (Marshall McLuhan wound up doing the selfportrait in my place, in the foyer of a movie theater.)" p 194 I'm obviously posting my resumé on the wrong job boards "Disguise is a fascinating experience, because it allows you to experience another life When you're a worker, for instance, sales people immediately suggest you buy the cheapest things; people are always cutting in front of you in line, and women never look at you Clearly, the world simply isn't made for you at all." p 227 I'm reminded of a Michael Moore tv show where he had a black scholar try to hail a cab at the same time as a white recently released convict of substantial criminal record The black guy cdn't get a cab, the white guy had no problem These are lessons thatpeople shd learn thru direct experience It's great to be a big deal director who makes 35mm films gets them shown internationally. BUT, then there's this: "One other thing I do regret about this film are the cuts I had to make to please the censors, especially the scene between Georges Marchal and Catherine Deneuve, whom he addresses as his daughter when she lies in a coffin in a private chapel after a Mass celebrated under a splendid copy of one of Grünewald's Christs the suppression of the Mass completely alters the character of this scene." pp 242243 Buñuel's last paragraph's ending wd make a great scene in a movie paying tribute to him: "I'd love to rise from the grave every ten years or so and go buy a few newspapers Ghostly pale, sliding silently along the walls, my papers under my arm, I'd return to the cemetery and read about all the disasters in the world before falling back to sleep, safe and secure in my tomb." p 256 Bravo! An engaging, personal look into the mind of a celebrated film director who was a notable part of the surrealist crew in Paris in the 20s I had seen his famous short "Un chien andalou" and also "El angel exterminador" (the latter of which I heard about in Allen's Midnight in Paris, when Owen Wilson suggests the idea to Bunuel), and coming out of reading this I have muchto look into he drops names of a lot lot lot of artists, films, etc I haven't read a proper autobiography in a while but I found it enjoyable and educational to engage with art and history through this very subjective lens I specify the subjectivity because I think Bunuel makes no attempt at objectivity (which makes sense for someone who has dealt so much in the thinking that happens at different levels of consciousness) Nor am I saying that's a bad thing in many ways it adds a layer of charm but I do get the sense that Bunuel is the hero of his own story, and it only makes me interested to read other takes on the same time by others in those circles (or in general) All in all, a very enjoyable read!


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