Buñuel renascitur
Return of the prodigious son
in Surrealism and film after 1945
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Luis Buñuel’s essay ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ was first published in 1958, but dates back a further five years to a paper the reclusive director gave in 1953. This essay demonstrates that, first, the backdrop to the essay is the international success of Buñuel’s Los olvidados (1950), which had put him back on the map, in Europe at least, following his disappearance as a film-maker after 1933’s Land without Bread (Las Hurdes). Second, since Los olvidados and Italian neorealism are contemporaneous, Buñuel, wary of the conflation of the two, to the detriment of his own movie, feels compelled to define the parameters of both neorealism and surrealism. Third, ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ is a surrealist text through and through. Fourth, both Los olvidados and ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ mark the return to the surrealist fold of this cinéaste maudit, at least as a far-flung fellow traveller using the ideas of the movement as his moral-poetic compass.

Surrealism and film after 1945

Absolutely modern mysteries

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