Friday, January 11, 2013

L'Age d'Or (Luis Buñuel)


A year after their aesthetically shocking "An Andalusian Dog", Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, two of the most subversive minds in all of modern art, return to form with something that's infinitely more scandalous, blasphemous and, to the eyes of many during the time, even close to pornographic. In a way, "An Andalusian Dog", a boldly offensive film in its own right, is their comparatively tamer (and saner, even) dress rehearsal for this little bad boy, an epic (yes, I think so) 60-minute dissection of societal putrescence.
Although the film is comprised of surrealistic images that may or may not ultimately add up to one coherent message, the individual intrigue that the images were able to evoke are truly unnerving. In my personal view, the film's visuals, in all its take-no-prisoners lunacy, is one of the most spot-on recapturing of the social, psychological and romantic insanities of our times.  So yes, despite of the film's highly blasphemous thematic texture, "L'Age d'Or" can be ironically considered as a 'miraculous' achievement in modern cinema, especially considering the fact that both Buñuel and Dali, at the time, were not that acquainted to the rigors of filmmaking.
In simple description, the film, at least on surface level, is the story of how two lovers, because of numerous hindrances and disruptions, can't seem to consummate their sexual and romantic longings just like how the bourgeoisie people in "The Exterminating Angel" can't seem to get out of the room they're in or how they can't even seem to eat their meals in "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie". Ultimately, it is in the middle of this kind of futility (specifically this film's two main characters and their misfiring attempts to be with one another) that both Buñuel and Dali were able to paint the landscapes of their film's masterful social probe. By penetrating the rotting core of what founds the pillars of religion, modern society and love itself, these two surrealistic bad boys were able to unearth, with unapologetic humor and shocking images, the intense perversity of human nature and its devastating consequences.
Often merely described as a surrealistic satire, I think that "L'Age d'Or" should be more aptly labeled as an anti-religious social nightmare that will make even the most apathetic member of the social populace cringe. Hell, more than 80 years have passed and I still think that this film is not for the faint of heart. After all, what do you expect if you merge the minds of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, an elegant costume drama? This film, just like the scorpions in its opening scene, may be too small in stature and short in length, but it sure profoundly stings.


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