SUSANA (Luis Buñuel, 1951)

Perhaps the dreariest of the films that Spaniard Luis Buñuel made in Mexico, Susana—also known as The Devil and the Flesh—finds a woman undoing the tranquility of the household with whom she takes refuge after escaping from a reformatory one stormy night. One early on knows that things aren’t going to work well here when, […]

TRISTANA (Luis Buñuel, 1970)

Luis Buñuel’s black comedy Tristana, while taken from Benito Pérez Galdós’s 1892 novel, reflects twentieth-century political concerns, and owes something also to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). It is less an allegory of Spain’s modern political history than a mismatch of humanity and politics, where each side is riddled with ambiguity. Perhaps Buñuel means to suggest […]


Based on the same 1898 novel, The Woman and the Puppet by Pierre Louÿs, as Josef von Sternberg’s The Devil Is a Woman (1935), Luis Buñuel’s final film, Cet obscur objet du désir, co-written by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière, plays with different ethnic and stylistic aspects of Buñuel’s cinematic and noncinematic identity. Two different actresses, […]

MEXICAN BUS RIDE (Luis Buñuel, 1951)

Boisterous, ebullient, warm, overflowing with humanity, Luis Buñuel’s Subida al cielo, literally, Ascent to Heaven, but known in the States as Mexican Bus Ride, is among my favorite films of his now that I’ve seen it belatedly for the first time. It isn’t as accomplished or satirically brilliant as other Buñuel films, but it’s endearing, […]

BELLE DE JOUR (Luis Buñuel, 1967)

From Joseph Kessel’s novel, Luis Buñuel’s autumnal Belle de Jour is silken, teasing, mesmerizing—a fine, shiny fabric interweaving reality and dream. At the end, does reality pass into poignant wish fulfillment, or does anxious waking nightmare pass into pleasant reality?      Séverine Serizy (glacial Catherine Deneuve, from whom Buñuel extracts all that is necessary) is married […]