Bunuel on Sunset Boulevard

There are many great moments in history in which I would have liked to be present: visiting ancient Greece, participating in the great inventions of humanity, strolling through Renaissance Italy and rubbing elbows with Leonardo or Michelangelo. I admit that all this would be very good, but I am a person with more earthly tastes and an almost sickly mythomaniac who is dying for the cinema, and if it is classic, even better. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of a less momentous event for the future of human beings but fascinating for fans of the seventh art.

In the winter of 1972, some of the most important directors in Hollywood (George Cukor, William Wyler, George Stevens, Robert Wise, Billy Wilder, Rouben Mamoulian, Robert Mulligan, Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford, the latter absent from the photograph) gathered to honor our most universal filmmaker, Luis Buñuel. Organized in the sumptuous Cukor mansion, the banquet took advantage of the Calandino master’s visit to the Los Angeles Film Festival on the occasion of the presentation of The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie (The following year, the film would be awarded the Oscar for best foreign film). The meeting was immortalized by photographer Marv Newton for the Los Angeles Times and I swear to you, putting my right hand on my copy of Buñuel’s memoirs, that it is one of my favorite passages in the intrahistory of cinema. A meeting of professionals with different points of view about life and stories, but with the same love and dedication to the craft of filmmaking.

An old acquaintance of this section, Alfred Hitchcock, admired Buñuel’s work. Even, as he collects in his book my last breath“on several occasions he had sung his praises in public.”

the author of Vertigo insisted on sitting at the table next to the Aragonese filmmaker, he talked to him about wine, food (he was on a diet) and his fascination with Tristana and Catherine Deneuve’s amputated leg. I imagine the good Hitch, like a plump and rosy boy, questioning Don Luis about intimate details of the film.

-Luis, my friend, tell us about Tristana’s leg.

-Please, Alfred, what are we eating?

Jokes aside, based on photography, Manuel Hidalgo wrote an exciting book entitled The Banquet of Geniuses. A work where the journalist analyzes the personalities of his protagonists and even proposes possible affinities between his filmographies. Beyond the adaptations that Wyler and Buñuel made of the novel Wuthering Heights, we find much stronger connections with the cinema of the omnipresent Hitchcock. Both use themes related to their films as if they were the perfect complement for a double bill: He and Psychosis (the figure of the psychopath), Belle de Jour Y marnie the thief (sexual repression).

It is always a good idea to recover the work of the so-called “cinema alchemist”, but it is even better to do it during these days when our city celebrates the fifth edition of the Desafío Buñuel film rally. Starting next Wednesday and ending on Saturday the 27th, four teams will shoot and edit their short films, taking as their starting point the 1977 film, That Obscure Object of Desire. To go through Buñuel’s filmography is to witness the work of an absolutely free creator, one of those filmmakers who, according to José Luis Garci in his Cinephile Telegrams (Kingdom of Cordelia), “invent cinema every time they look through the camera”.

One more year, directors and screenwriters will take to the streets, actors and actresses will give us their art and Teruel will record before the cameras what it really is… a city of cinema.

Bunuel on Sunset Boulevard