Age D’Or (2004 re-release) – movie review

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Movie Review by Almiro Jorge

Starring: Gaston Modot, Lya Lys, Caridad De Laberdesque, Max Ernst, Pierre Prevert
Director: Luis Bunuel

A conflict between sexual desire and religious and political repression…

The second film by the father of cinematic Surrealism, Luis Bunuel, is even more shocking than his first, UN CHIEN ANDALOU. The film opens with a documentary about scorpions stinging each other and then turning on a rat. We then get taken to a memorial where a man (Gaston Modot) sexually assaults a woman (Lya Lys) in miry clay, which Bunuel then vulgarly compares to a lavatory in a lovely bit of montage.

Two other characters then apprehend the man and they commence the long, arduous journey to the police station in which we see his misdemeanour and nihilism. In the subsequent scenes we see the man kicking a dog for no reason, assaulting a blind man, destroying a violin, the man stamping on a beetle, a religious sacrament being compared to a woman’s naked leg. After this the man reveals his credentials and is set free. In other sequences, a man shoots a child for having taken something. Having walked up to the child, he shoots him again from close range. A cow gets up off the bed and walks out the door. A horse-driven cart is pulled through a house at a party. A girl sucks on the toe of a statue.

The perversity in Bunuel’s film is unnecessary as the plot only wants to show how a couple’s challenge to consummate their love for each other is failed as a result of politics and church. On the other hand, what would surrealism be but an abstraction of possibility, even to the point of perversity?

With at least one extraordinary piece of filmmaking (the scene that leads on from where the cow gets up off the bed) and great all-round cinematography, added to the captivating montage throughout, Bunuel proves his worth not only as a legend in surrealism but a formidable director.

When it was released in 1930 the film caused serious uproar and rioting, but watching it now won’t have nearly the same effect as it did then although a scene depicting Jesus in an orgy will leave you in a quandary, spewing a miasma of bad taste for a long time.

This film is only a must-see if you are a film student, surrealist or art lover otherwise I will not recommend it to anyone. Its greatness is only preceded by its offensiveness.

5 out of 6 stars