One of Luis Bunuel's masterworks, THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL is a brilliant surrealist allegory about a group of socialites who, after attending a dinner party, inexplicably find themselves unable to leave their host's house, and gradually degenerate into violence and depravity.
While preparing for a dinner party at the home of aristocrat Esmundo Nobile (Enrique Rambal) and his wife Lucia (Lucy Gallardo), all of the servants, except for the majordomo Julian (Claudio Brook), begin to walk out of the house. Lucia moves a bear and a flock of sheep from the salon to the
garden, and when the 20 guests arrive, Julian serves dinner. Afterwards, the guests go into the salon to hear Blanca (Patricia de Morelos) play a piano sonata, but some of them fall asleep. At 4 a.m., they're still there, and Nobile suggests they all spend the night. In the morning, some women try
to go to the bathroom, but can't leave the salon, and when Julio brings in some coffee, he too is unable to leave. 24 hours later, everyone is still trapped inside, and their behavior turns irritable and bizarre.
Following the success of VIRIDIANA (1961), producer Gustavo Alatriste gave him carte blanche for THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL without even seeing a script. When it was finished, Alatriste screened it and said: "I don't understand a thing in it. It's marvelous." His reaction is typical of most--you're
not quite sure what it's about on an intellectual level, but instinctively, you feel that you've seen something profound and amazing, not to mention savagely funny and tremendously entertaining. Bunuel himself stated that it's doubtful whether it's capable of interpretation, but it's obvious that
he uses the basic premise as a metaphor for moral decay, spiritual inertia and malaise, the breakdown of social order, and the illusion of free will. The entire film has the delirious intensity of a fever dream, emphasized by Gabriel Figueroa's darkly sensuous photography and by Bunuel's
economical technique, which has a formal, though never fussy, elegance. If the film defies rational explanation, that is obviously Bunuel's intention, and its mystery only adds to its power and beauty.
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- Review: One of Luis Bunuel's masterworks, THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL is a brilliant surrealist allegory about a group of socialites who, after attending a dinner party, inexplicably find themselves unable to leave their host's house, and gradually degenerate into vio… (more)