Toledo in the 30s: The godfather of cinematic surrealism, Luis Buñuel, the poet Federico Garcia Loca and the painter Salvador Dalí are on a search for the mythical table of King Salomon, ... See full summary »
Toledo in the 30s: The godfather of cinematic surrealism, Luis Buñuel, the poet Federico Garcia Loca and the painter Salvador Dalí are on a search for the mythical table of King Salomon, which is known to have the power to see in the past, the present and the future. Their scour paths them through hilarious moments of absurdity and lots of references to movie history. Written by
Moritz Muehlenhoff <email@example.com>
Bunuel And King Solomon's Table (Carlos Saura, 2001) ***
While this is the very first film from distinguished Spanish film-maker Saura I have watched (and which, as it happens, he himself considers his best work though it is an opinion which no one else seems to share!), I have collected some 18 other titles of his mostly within this last year!
To begin with, I must congratulate him on his choice of actor (bearing the odd name Gran Wyoming!) playing the aged Luis Bunuel since he is a dead-ringer for the Surrealist master (less so his younger counterpart). The idea of having Bunuel and his inseparable youthful companions, the eccentric painter Salvador Dali and the ill-fated poet Federico Garcia Lorca, involved in an Indiana Jones-type archaeological quest/adventure was certainly amusing and bizarre but the end result, while generally enjoyable, is insufficiently memorable and decidedly pointless in the long run!
That said, Saura is obviously well-versed in the works and experiences of the three protagonists so that he has Bunuel and Dali accuse one another of triggering their 'subsequent' much-publicized and long-lasting rift, while Garcia Lorca has a chilling premonition of his own death during the Spanish Civil War (in perhaps the single most awe-inspiring moment here, as a boy is shown literally lifting the sea to check what is underneath an image so strong that it even graced the movie's posters!). The most delightful moment, then, sees Bunuel being accosted by a local critic, whose initial enthusiasm (he even goes on to name the director's most demanding effort, THE MILKY WAY , as his favorite!) unaccountably gives way to a diatribe against his occasionally questionable artistic choices (the musical GRAN CASINO , the fine remake of WUTHERING HEIGHTS  albeit deemed inferior to William Wyler's 1939 Hollywood rendition and even the semi-Western THE RIVER AND DEATH , which I personally like a good deal but the director himself seemed not to care for); Saura has the last laugh, though, as the man is revealed to be a fugitive from a lunatic asylum - just like a character in THE MILKY WAY itself!
When the trio are getting close to their objective, they decide to separate: however, fate (or their collective fears and desires) contrive to stall their progress with Lorca becoming witness to an impromptu flamenco performance (though ostensibly suggesting the poet's latent homosexuality, it is worth noting that Saura would over the years tackle various forms of traditional Spanish dances on film!), Dali haunted by visions of his disapproving wheelchair-bound father, and Bunuel giving in to the wiles of a femme fatale (played by Italian bombshell Valeria Marini). By the way, one definite link here to the real Bunuel is the on-screen presence of his regular screen writing partner Jean-Claude Carriere (whom I have recently managed to contact in order to express my appreciation for his prolific and diverse legacy!) as the mystery man who instigates the search for the all-powerful artifact that once belonged to the Hebrew King of Biblical times; then again, a SIMON OF THE DESERT (1965)-like ascetic monk and the church where a famous scene from TRISTANA (1970) was filmed also put in an appearance whereas, at the climax, our heroes encounter a giant robot straight out of Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS (1927) - a movie the real Bunuel had written about during his short stint as a contemporary Parisian film reviewer!
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