In 1929, Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel - then only as old as the century - gave the world an electrifying jolt. His short film “Un Chien Andalou,” a Surrealist collaboration with artist Salvador Dalí, simultaneously hypnotized with mirthful dream logic and accosted the eye with sudden-impact images (the most famous of which, fittingly, is a severely accosted eye). Buñuel’s career in film would span the next half-century, jumping between countries of production as circumstance dictated. After making “Un Chien Andalou” and its feature-length playmate L’AGE D’OR in Europe, he fled the Spanish Civil War and sought refuge first briefly in Hollywood and then in Mexico, where his “Mexican period” in filmmaking began. There he produced alternately searing and satirical razor-sharp gems of class commentary such as THE YOUNG AND THE DAMNED (LOS OLVIDADOS), THE CRIMINAL LIFE OF ARCHIBALDO DE LA CRUZ and THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL.
The iconoclastic director would reside in Mexico for the rest of his life but periodically return to Europe for filmmaking purposes, establishing himself as a key figure in the burgeoning arena of international cinema with one boundary-blowing hit after another: VIRIDIANA, DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, BELLE DE JOUR, TRISTANA, THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, PHANTOM OF LIBERTY and THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE. Fetish, religion, bourgeois society and socio-moral degradation occupy Buñuel cinema like slyly winking serpents, always wonderfully fanged but never overbearingly serious. These obsessions richly color his work, and his irreverent, gleefully ballsy treatment of taboos gives the Buñuel canon deliciously lasting appeal.