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The Luis Bunuel Collection in January

Optimum Home Entertainment have announced the UK Region 2 DVD release of The Luis Bunuel Collection for 22nd January 2007 priced at £44.99. Born in Spain, Luis Buñuel is widely credited as the founder of surrealist cinema with films such as Un Chien andalou (made with Salvador Dali) and L’Age d’Or. Sensing that someone with his political and artistic sensibilities would have no place in a Nationalist-controlled Spain, Buñuel immigrated to New York and later to Mexico, where his career in cinema really began. Although most of the films in this set were made in France, Buñuel would return frequently to his adopted Mexican homeland, eventually dying in Mexico City in 1983.

Included in the set are: That Obscure Object Of Desire, The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie, Diary Of A Chamber Maid, The Phantom Of Liberty, Milky Way, Tristana, La Joven (aka La Jeune Fille) and Belle De Jour.

That Obscure Object Of Desire (1977)

Adapted from Pierre Louys' 1898 novel La Femme et le Pantin, That Obscure Object of Desire marked Buñuel’s final film.

Recounted in flashback to a group of railway travellers, the story wryly details the romantic perils of Mathieu (Buñuel favourite Fernando Rey), a wealthy, middle-aged French sophisticate who falls desperately in love with his 19-year-old former chambermaid Conchita (Carole Bouquet, Red Lights). Thus begins a surreal game of sexual cat-and-mouse, with Mathieu obsessively attempting to win the girl's affections as she manipulates his carnal desires, each vying to gain absolute control of the other.

Running time: 99 mins approx
Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Audio: Mono
EXTRAS>>> Une Oeuvre a Repriser documentary on That Obscure Object of Desire (26 mins) / theatrical trailer

The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972)

In Luis Buñuel’s deliciously satiric masterpiece, six pillars of society repeatedly try to have dinner together, their plans interrupted by events both real (scheduling mix-ups, a restaurateur's death) and increasingly surreal (exposed on a theatre stage, assassinated by paramilitaries).

Alternately laugh-out-loud funny and disquietingly bizarre (its dream sequences rank among Buñuel's most uncannily vivid, a shot of cockroaches skittering over piano keys recalling Un Chien Andalou half a century earlier), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is an ideal introduction to the director’s work. Fernando Rey, Stéphane Audran, Delphine Seyring, and Jean-Pierre Cassel head the extraordinary cast of a film made when Buñuel was 72 years-old. Full of passion and fire, it was the 1972 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film.

Running time: 97 mins approx
Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Audio: Mono
EXTRAS>>> 28 minute Documentary A Walk among the Shadows

Diary of a Chambermaid (1964)

Written by Buñuel and his regular writing partner Jean-Claude Carriere, Diary of A Chambermaid charts the ambitions of Célestine (Jeanne Moreau, Jules et Jim), a woman who comes to work in the Normandy estate occupied by Monsieur Rabour (Jean Ozenne), his daughter (Francoise Lugagne), and the daughter's husband, the right wing Monsieur Montiel (Michel Piccoli, Milou en mai). Celestine quickly learns that M. Rabour is a more or less harmless boot fetishist, his daughter a frigid woman more concerned with the family furnishings than in returning the affections of her husband, who, in turn, can't keep his hands off the servants. Célestine picks her way through this minefield carefully, spurning the advances of all of the men until it's convenient for her.

Charting the rise of 30s Fascism, Buñuel’s film also intelligently considers political, social and sexual positions in relation to the perversity of human desires. Moreau excels as the sharp-witted servant, one of the most fascinating of all Buñuel’s proto-feminist heroines.

Feature running time: 94 mins approx
Feature Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Audio: Mono
EXTRAS>>> Une Ange dans les Marecages documentary on Diary of a Chambermaid (26 mins) / theatrical trailer

The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

Best approached as a literal comedy of manners – The Phantom of Liberty is perversely funny and punctuated with a series of quite brilliant sight gags whilst arguing against the acceptance of strict moral codes, suggesting that the only way to live freely is to embrace the coincidences of the world.

Episodic in structure, the film is a series of anarchic and frequently surreal series of events through which the director ravages a complacent European culture and the various sexual hang-ups and historical and cultural disconnects of its inhabitants. A man sells postcards of French tourist attractions, calling them "pornographic." A sniper in Montparnasse is hailed as a hero for killing passers-by. A missing child helps the police fill out the report on her. A group of monks play poker, using religious medallions as chips, and in the most infamous sequence, a formally dressed social group gathers at toilets around a table, occasionally excusing themselves to go into little stalls in a private room to eat.

Feature running time: 99 mins approx
Feature Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Audio: Mono
EXTRAS>>> Le Celebration du Hasard documentary on Phantom (16 mins) / theatrical trailer

The Milky Way (1969)

Religious pilgrims Pierre (Paul Frankeur) and Jean (Laurent Terzieff) journey to a shrine in the north of Spain. Their faith is severely tested by some of the irreverent characters they confront in the course of their pilgrimage. Even chance meetings with Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Devil are not quite what Pierre and Jean have been prepared for in their religious training.

In his autobiography The Last Sigh, Buñuel suggests that The Milky Way, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and The Phantom of Liberty form a kind of trilogy, or rather a triptych. All three have the same themes, sometimes even the same grammar; and all evoke the search for truth, as well as the necessity of abandoning it as soon as you've found it.

Feature running time: 97 mins approx
Feature Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Audio: Mono
EXTRAS>>> 32 minute Documentary Buñuel, atheist thanks to God /
Theatrical Trailer

Tristana (1970)

Set in Toledo in the early 1930s, Buñuel regular Fernando Rey (The French Connection, That Obscure Object of Desire) stars as Don Lope, an aging figure of respectability who becomes the guardian of Tristana (Catherine Deneuve, Repulsion, Belle de Jour), a young woman with whom he is soon completely smitten. Finally accepting Don Lope’s proposal of marriage after having her tumorous leg amputated, Tristana chooses a passionless union rather than be subject to the harsh realities of a society that refuses to change to the needs of women.

Essentially a contest of wills between the two lead characters (with Deneuve and Rey both giving excellent performances), Tristana is a compelling black comedy that offers a characteristically audacious look at sexual obsession and bourgeois sensibilities.

Feature running time: 95 mins approx
Feature Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Audio: Mono
EXTRAS>>> Bunuel, Athee Grace a Dieu documentary on Milky Way (32 mins) / theatrical trailer


La Joven (La Jeune Fille) (1960)

Miller (Zachary Scott, Mildred Pierce) is a middle-aged handyman on a small island off the Carolina coast. His neighbours are a 13-year-old girl, Evalyn (Key Meersman) and her grandfather. After her grandfather dies, Miller looks after the young girl, and they are the only two on the island until the arrival of Traver (Bernie Hamilton), a black man fleeing a lynch mob that suspects him of rape. Miller wants to turn him in and remove him from the tryst, but Evalyn likes Traver and protects him. A preacher arrives from the mainland to rescue Evalyn from her situation, and Traver's presence is discovered. Miller is now forced to decide whether to turn him over to the mob and lose standing in the girl's eyes.

One of the less celebrated of Buñuel’s works – though it was nominated for the Palme d’Or and bought the director a Cannes special mention – The Young One is a complex and controversial work dealing with illicit desire and racial prejudice. One of only two of Buñuel’s English language features.

Feature running time: 96 mins approx
Feature Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Audio: Mono
EXTRAS>>> Presentation du Film documentary on La Jeune Fille (5 mins) / theatrical trailer

Belle De Jour (1967)

Undoubtedly Luis Buñuel’s most accessible film, Belle de Jour is an elegant and erotic masterpiece that maintains as hypnotic a grip on modern audiences as it did on its debut 30 years ago.

Screen icon Catherine Deneuve (Repulsion) plays Severine, the glacially beautiful, sexually unfulfilled wife of a surgeon, whose blood runs icy with ennui until she takes a day-job in a brothel. There she meets a charismatic but sinister young gangster (Pierre Clémenti), and ignites an obsession that will court peril.

Feature running time: 96 mins approx
Feature Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Audio: Mono
EXTRAS>>> Histoire du Film documentary about Belle De Jour (30 mins) / theatrical trailer / Commentary from Spanish Cinema expert Professor Peter William Evans

Belle de Jour is also due for release separately the same day (details here).

Last updated: 19/04/2018 03:49:06

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