Sunday, 26 August 2012

L'Age D'Or (1930)

Spanish-French surrealist movie art part 2.

In many ways what I wrote about “Un Chien Andalou” are also valid for L’Age D’Or. It is more of the same with the primary difference that it is better. Of course if you despised The Dog you are going to hate the Golden Age, but if like me you enjoy this sort of thing “L’Age d’Or” is a treasure throve of weird and hilarious surrealist imagery.

I have not figured out the story line. I suspect there is one, but I have not grasped it. So no point in explaining the story. There are some recurring characters though, most notably a man and a woman. First time we see them they make love on a beach in front of a bunch of dignitaries there to erect a statue in memory of some bishops who died there. The man is arrested and taken away into Rome, the city that later grew up on the place. He is freed when he shows the policemen (?) some papers that declare him to be important and so he goes to a party on a castle where the girl presumably lives. Here they continue their odd lovemaking until he go home to throw a plow, a burning tree, a bishop and a lot of pillow stuffing out on the street.

Somehow all this is just not really important. The great thing here is that all these scenes are funny and absurd to a point where even Monty Python must be envious. I will not be surprised to find that there is a deeper motive for the scenes but because they are made as they are they are funny in themselves. I will list a few of them.

A man at the castle is met by his little son. They obviously care for each other. The child teases him a runs away laughing and the father shoots him coldly and deliberately. The guest look out for like 5 seconds clearly thinking “oh, whatever”.

The woman enters her bedroom and finds a cow in her bed. She sighs and leads it out. The bell of the cow makes the man happy.

A man is walking down the street kicking a violin in front of him.

There are a bunch fighters (rebels? guerillas?) on the beach. They see the bishops, stagger out to fight them, but succumb one by one with no further reference to them.

In an isolated mountain castle a bunch of wealthy people have closed themselves off with a bunch of pretty girls and some women well versed in debauchery to indulge in a major orgy. Out steps… Jesus and a crippled old following. When a woman, obviously in pain attempts to follow them Jesus steps back and “deals” with her and he comes back alone.

There are a ton more of these scenes with no seeming relation to anything. Taken out of context they are bizarre, but what exactly is the context?

One scene I did get. Some of the guests at the castle step out of a car but leave behind a big crucifix, meaning that they are leaving holiness behind and what takes place in the castle is unholy.

Maybe one day I will understand what is really going on. Meanwhile I will enjoy guessing and for now I will laugh from the sheer weirdness of it all. That does not mean I am aloof to the deeper points. I just think like with The Dog that this was created also with a sparkle in the eye. We are supposed to enjoy all these bizarre tableaux. And I certainly do.


  1. Totally bizarre as it may be, I kinda like this one too. It's SO out there, and yet I found a very strange beauty in it. It's certainly not my favorite movie ever, but I liked it!

    1. To me it is because it is so bizarre that I like it. Of course it should not be compared with conventional movies but considered as some sort of installation art. Or a script from a brainstorm on some serious weed taken for face value by the filmmaker

  2. I couldn't stand this film, or pretty much anything Bunuel made. Well, I thought the Exterminating Angel and the Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie were OK, but I've always preferred a little narrative drive over insane skits, unless its Monty Python. I think my main problem was I was expecting a plot, and my expectations were not met.

  3. I can respect that and indeed I usually find it annoying when there is no red thread in the films I see. Here it is just so wacky that it is funny all the while there probably is something below the weird things happening

  4. I liked this more than An Andalusian Dog, probably because there were actually some human characters that stayed on the screen for a while. It also has some semblance of being about something (as you mentioned), as opposed to the earlier film which seems to me to be nothing more than some random images that took their fancy.

    I still wouldn't recommend either film to anyone not trying to complete this list.

  5. I hated this--and it was worse than Un Chien Andalou because it was way longer. Bunuel said that this was "a romantic film performed in full Surrealist frenzy." I saw nothing romantic about it. Furthermore, this film was an inspiration for that pervert Pasolini to make his 120 Days of Sodom horror.

    1. There are weird movies that I love and weird movies that I hate. This one is weird in a but way. Many of the pictures are just hilarious. I am about to write a review of Orpheé, that one is weird in a most annoying way and I absolutely dislike it. Again, I do not think this is a movie to understand, but a movie to enjoy. Fortunately I have not had the (dis)pleasure of 120 Days of Sodom. I am trying to hide the fact that eventually it will be coming up behind a veil of denial.