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.

by | Permalink | Comments (4) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (4)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • 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

  • javi says:

    You have to add The Clock­work Orange by Kubrick, when he saw it he said it was his favorite, he did this list prob­a­bly before the 70s.

  • Anne Ockershausen says:

    This bit of infor­ma­tion makes me very hap­py!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.