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1 item from 2004

Bunuel, King Solomon

8 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- In "Bunuel and King Solomon's Table," Carlos Saura performs a very brave and possibly foolish deed. The film is a tribute to his friend and countryman, the late, great Luis Bunuel, cinema's only true master of surrealism. This is a fictional work in which Bunuel plays a starring role in an "adventure" movie that tries to explore the imaginative powers of his mind.

Only the most loyal Saura admirer is likely to think the film succeeds in any way. Filled with inside jokes not only about Bunuel but also his youthful friends, playwright-poet Federico Garcia Lorca and artist Salvador Dali, references to 20th century Spanish history and culture, arcane movie references and philosophical double-talk, the movie should prove wearying to even the most adventurous adult moviegoer. And lovers of Bunuel might get ticked off at the temerity and self-indulgence of anyone who thinks he can explain away the imagination of one of the movie's most original minds.

Bunuel (Gran Wyoming) is seen first in present-day Spain -- this despite the fact he has been dead for 18 years -- longing to return to his home in Mexico City. A producer pitches a project based on the legend of King Solomon's table, whose mirror has the power to reveal the past, present and future.

Bunuel closes his eyes to imagine the movie starring himself as a young man (Pere Arquillue) in the 1930s, who along with his pals Dali (Ernesto Alterio) and Lorca (Adria Collado) explores Toledo's dark streets and underworld in search of the mystical table.

This quest allows each character to express artistic tenants and comment wryly on the Oz-like curiosities the trio encounter as they wander through a maze of sets created by renowned artist Jose Hernandez -- sets that pull images from "Indiana Jones" to Fritz Lang's "Metropolis".

It's too inside and too precious by half. While Saura has a gift for "magic realism," he has none for true surrealism with its tongue-in-cheek imagery, blatant cruelty and religious or Freudian anarchy. It's hard to see how any of this intellectual slapstick puts us, as Saura would have it, "inside (Bunuel's) head, traveling along the paths of his imagination."

The actors, realizing they are playing three Spanish icons, give rather subdued performances for three young men out on an adventure. Even the artificiality of Hernandez's sets eventually wears out its welcome.


Rioja Films/CPI/Filmax Group/

Films Sans Frontieres/Road Movies/

Altavista Films

Producer:Montserrat Bou

Director:Carlos Saura

Screenwriters:Carlos Saura, Agustin Sanchez Vidal

Executive producer:Jose Antonio Romero

Director of photography:Jose Luis Lopez Linares

Production designer:Jose Hernandez

Music:Roque Banos

Costume designer:Cristina Rodiguez

Editor:Julia Juaniz



Older Bunuel:Gran Wyoming

Younger Bunuel:Pere Arquillue

Dali:Ernesto Alterio

Lorca:Adria Collado

Running time -- 105 minutes

No MPAA rating


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1 item from 2004

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