LEONOR (Juan Luis Buñuel, 1975)

A bewitching, soulful medieval vampire movie played out against the background of the Black Plague, Leonor, from Spain, France and Italy, is a work of death, loss, suffering, undying love, romantic obsession, doomed remarriage, child abductions, environmentalism, the bridgeable “gap between life and death,” harsh hoofbeats, rough mountains, bleating sheep and howling winds. Juan Luis Buñuel, whose father, I believe, is not unfamiliar to you, co-wrote and directed, with Ingmar Bergman as much in mind as Pop. I love this spacious, haunting movie, which is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s wonderful story “Ligeia.” Michel Piccoli and Liv Ullmann star, and Piccoli in particular is magnificent. Ullmann gives me the creeps, and on this occasion is actually supposed to!
     Things beautifully, and surprisingly, connect in this film. Early on, the Black Plague is identified with stench. When the first wife returns from her tomb after ten years, she asks to have “a very strong perfume” made for her.
     Poe-people! This one is better than Jean Epstein’s Fall of the House of Usher (1928) and is not to be missed!

One thought on “LEONOR (Juan Luis Buñuel, 1975)

  1. Very nice review! I love this gem of a movie that nobody seems to know much about. Glad to meet another fan of this undiscovered masterpiece. : )

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