The 10 Favorite Films of Avant-Garde Surrealist Filmmaker Luis Buñuel (Including His Own Collaboration with Salvador Dalí)

You may remember that when we featured the favorite films of Federico Fellini, the 8 1/2 director’s top-ten list included… well, 8 1/2. But then, no filmmaker before Fellini or after him has had quite the same sensibility, so if Fellini made the kind of movies he himself wanted to watch — and I suspect he made only that kind of movie — then we might wonder why his list didn’t include even more of his own work. And maybe we should wonder the same about this list of favorites from Luis Buñuel, the Spanish surrealist who started doing for vivid, dreamlike, and grotesque European cinema in the 1920s what Fellini kept doing for it until the 1990s:

  1. Underworld (1927, Josef von Sternberg)
  2. The Gold Rush (1925, Charles Chaplin)
  3. The Bicycle Thief (1947, Vittorio De Sica)
  4. Battleship Potemkin (1925, Sergei Eisenstein)
  5. Portrait of Jennie (1948, William Dieterle)
  6. Cavalcade (1933, Frank Lloyd)
  7. White Shadows in the South Seas (1928, W.S. Van Dyle/Robert Flaherty)
  8. Dead of Night (1945, Alberto Cavalcanti/Charles Crichton/Basil Deardon/Robert Hamer)
  9. L’Age d’Or (1930, Luis Bunuel/Salvador Dali)
  10. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932, Mervyn LeRoy)

At the top of the post, you can watch Buñuel’s number-one pick, Josef von Sternberg’s silent proto-gangster picture Underworld. Just above, you’ll find his number-nine pick, and the one he had a hand in himself: L’Age d’Or, the 1930 societal satire on which he collaborated with the Spanish artist Salvador Dalí. It came as the follow-up to their 1929 silent short Un Chien Andalou, a work widely recognized as the foundation stone of surrealist cinema (see also our post on both films), and it came with much greater ambitions.

Neither Buñuel’s own directorial style nor the medium of cinema itself had quite found their form yet; those conditions produced a film that still retains many striking and even cutting qualities today, albeit not, perhaps, to the same degree that they caused contemporary right-wingers to toss ink at the screen and start brawls in the aisles. Watch the pre-1930 films on the list, like Battleship Potemkin and The Gold Rush, to understand what formed Buñuel’s cinematic sensibility; watch L’Age d’Or to understand why, when it comes to his own work, he prefers the early stuff.

via Combustible Celluloid

Related Content:

Two Vintage Films by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel: Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’Or

Read Filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s Recipe for the Perfect Dry Martini, and Then See Him Make One

Federico Fellini’s List of His 10 Favorite Films … Includes One of His Own

Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in CinemaFollow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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  • Mark says:

    Thanks for this post. Curious to know where this list comes from. Bunuel’s favorite director is known to have been Fritz Lang but none of his films are on the list. I have never read anywhere that Cavalcade was a film that Bunuel thought anything about. In his memoir he does mention some of the films on this list so I wonder if this list is from a very early interview perhaps? Still, Bunuel did mentioned Metropolis and the Nibelungen films,which were silent, in his memoir. I’m sure this is an accurate list; it just seems a bit odd to me.
    Thank you!

  • Miss tea says:

    Watching Alfred Hitchcock on Dick Cavett say that Buneul was his favorite director so I m looking forward to seeing his films. My Roger Corman Stanley Kubrick Roman Polanski Alfred Hitchcock dvd collection is only thing i collect. love movies

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