That Obscure Object of Desire
Sun Jan 2-Thurs Jan 6
Clinton St. Theater
Why do I dislike Luis Buñuel? Because he was a surrealist, and I dislike surrealism because it takes all of its clues from dreams. And I hate dreams because they bother my sleep.
Nothing is worse than being subjected to a sequence of silly situations that add up to nothing. Indeed, every time I wake up from a dream I'm angry with my head: "What was the use of that dream?" I say to it. "Why was I fondling my sister's breast? Why was that dog barking at me in the dark closet? Why was I on the moon looking for my father's tombstone?" And Buñuel's films go on forever, like bad dreams. In fact, we never see the real lives of his characters, only their movements through levels and layers of dreams. This, of course, is the dream-lovers' paradise--they get to see an interesting dream, which gives them enormous pleasure, because dream-lovers believe that truth exists only in the subconscious, where it's hidden or repressed by your conscious hours. Therefore, to decode Buñuel's film-dream is to access the truth.
In That Obscure Object of Desire, Buñuel's last film, we start with an explosion, which is followed by a strange scene at a train station involving an older man (Fernando Rey) and a much younger woman (Carole Bouquet/Ángela Molina). The older man pours a bucket of water on the young woman's head. The man then enters a train and explains the reasons for his actions to a dwarf.
Many who watch Buñuel's films will find them challenging, complex, and hard to understand. But these films are not demanding--or even interesting, really--because they don't mean anything. Balloons and umbrellas in dreams don't mean anything; surrealism, Dali's horrible paintings, and Kafka's stories amount to nothing. Buñuel's films have a far worse crime to answer to than being incomprehensible or obtuse: they're simply meaningless.