Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rudeness, Violence and Filth

The Exterminating Angel/El Angel Exterminador (1962) - Buñuel
Elegant guests arrive for a dinner party at an opulent mansion, while servants excuse themselves to be off for the night. As the dinner progresses, the guests gossip and boast about their bourgeois whatever. Uncharacteristically, as if under a spell, all of them rationalize themselves to stay the night at the study. They say they have places to be and businesses to attend but they lay themselves down on various furniture and floor even. The next day, they rationally talk about this phenomenon. But no one wants to take the first step out of the study and through the dinning room to the door, not even to the kitchen. Days become weeks become months. They soon run out of food and water. Ming vases in the closet become toilets. Tempers fly and fights break out. It's a total anarchy. They burn furniture and floorboard for heat and cooking. They break water pipes under the brick wall (with an ornamental mace, no less) to quench their thirst. Sick die and couples commit suicide. Many succumb to hallucinations and madness.

The outside world- including family members of the self-imposed prisoners and police, has a standoff with the mansion. No one's taking a first step into the house either. One of the kids whose parents are in the house tries to get in, only to scamper away at the doorstep. His balloon flies away. Someone say the stench from the house is unbearable.

Buñuel's absurd take on hypocrisy of bourgeoisie is a great fun to watch. He is a brilliant satirist with a great sense of humor. The film never feels ham-fisted the way José Saramago's Blindness does. Love the cyclical ending too.

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