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Luis Buñuel

(1900—1983) Spanish film director


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(1900–1983)

Spanish-born film director who settled in Mexico.

Born in Calanda, Buñuel was educated by Jesuits and at the University of Madrid. He also attended the Académie du Cinéma, Paris. His first two films, Un Chien andalou (1928) and L'Âge d'or (1930), were both produced in collaboration with Salvador Dali and established Buñuel as a surrealist film-maker par excellence. Remarkable for their shocking and terrifying images, his films often attacked the Establishment, the middle classes and, in particular, the church. Las hurdes (1932), dealing with the plight of deprived Spanish peasants, was followed by fifteen years in the ‘wilderness’, dubbing American films. In 1947 Buñuel settled in Mexico and re-established his reputation with Los olvidados (1950), which won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Also made in Mexico were El (1952) and Wuthering Heights (1953), among others. Considered more important, however, were Nazarin (1958), made in France, and Viridiana (1961). The latter was made in Spain, where it was ultimately banned, even though the script had been passed by the censors. Among the notable films that followed were El angel exterminador (1962; The Exterminating Angel), Belle de jour (1966), winner of the Venice Golden Lion Award, La Voie lactée (1969; The Milky Way), Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972; The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), which won a best foreign language Academy Award, and That Obscure Object of Desire (1977).

As a gesture of reconciliation the Spanish government awarded Buñuel, who had taken Mexican nationality, the Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel la Catolica just before his death. His autobiography, My Last Sigh, was translated in 1983.

Subjects: contemporary history (post 1945).


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