An uproarious summary of Luis Bunuel's surrealistic concerns in a collection of anecdotes starring Jean-Claude Brialy, Michel Piccoli, and Monica Vitti. THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY jumps from place to place and time to time in a manner that follows the (il)logic of dreams. The film opens in the
Napoleonic era with Spanish patriots urging on the firing squad that's about to execute them with shouts of things like "Down with Liberty!" and "Up with Chains!" Following this is a scene of a maid reading to a child the story we have just witnessed. Again the scene changes to show a man selling
supposedly pornographic postcards that are actually shots of entirely non-pornographic French tourist attractions. A nurse then makes the mistake of wandering into a poker game played by a group of monks. A man with a rifle kills passers-by from the top of a Montparnasse building and is hailed as
a hero. A missing girl helps the police fill out a report on her disappearance. And, in perhaps the most memorable sequence, a group of elegantly dressed dinner guests sit on toilet seats as they converse around a dining room table. They sheepishly request to be excused when hunger strikes and
then creep off to a room containing a private little stall where they may dine.
This is a crazy, subversively funny film about convention-bound characters who have a hard time dealing with sexuality and freedom. It's heartening to see that Bunuel could still ruffle as many feathers at age 75 as he did in 1928 and 1930 with UN CHIEN ANDALOU and L'AGE D'OR.
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