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Death in the Garden (1956)

La mort en ce jardin (original title)
Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 21 September 1956 (France)
0:52 | Clip

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Chark, an adventurer comes to small village in the near of a gold digger's camp. He is arrested by the local police, who accuse him of having comitted a bank robbery in a neighoured town. ... See full summary »


Luis Buñuel


Luis Alcoriza (adaptation), Luis Buñuel (adaptation) | 4 more credits »



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Complete credited cast:
Simone Signoret ... Djin
Charles Vanel ... Castin
Georges Marchal ... Shark
Michel Piccoli ... Father Lizardi
Tito Junco ... Chenko
Raúl Ramírez ... Álvaro (as Raul Ramirez)
Luis Aceves Castañeda ... Alberto (as Luis-Aceves Castañeda)
Jorge Martínez de Hoyos ... Captain Ferrero (as Jorge Martinez de Hoyos)
Alberto Pedret Alberto Pedret ... Second Lieutenant Jiménez
Marc Lambert Marc Lambert ... Miner
Stefani Stefani ... Miner
Michèle Girardon ... María Castin


Chark, an adventurer comes to small village in the near of a gold digger's camp. He is arrested by the local police, who accuse him of having comitted a bank robbery in a neighoured town. The police also confiscate the gold mine for the state, due to this the gold diggers start an revolution, but it is beaten. Chark, Father Lizzardi, Castin and his daugher and Djin, a whore to whom castin is in love are fleeing into the jungle. where they start to fight for their lifes. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Adventure | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »



France | Mexico



Release Date:

21 September 1956 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Death in the Garden See more »

Filming Locations:

Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to Luis Buñuel, Simone Signoret missed her husband Yves Montand so much that "on her way to join us in Mexico, she slipped some Communist documents into her passport, hoping to be turned away by American Immigration". See more »


Referenced in Belarmino (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

Not only great, underrated, unseen Bunuel, but one of the 10 greatest films ever made.
5 June 2001 | by aw-komon-2See all my reviews

I love most of Bunuel's films but "Death In the Garden" is definitely my absolute favorite, ahead of "Los Olvidados," and even "Viridiana." For me, this is as close to perfection as you can get doing 'transcendent realist' or 'transcendent existentialist' cinema (although Bunuel has gotten tagged as a 'surrealist,' most of his '50s work actually has very little to do with that movement and style, and a couple of 'trippy' scenes here and there shouldn't automatically serve to qualify those films in the same boat as "The Exterminating Angel" or "Phantom of Liberty," etc.). To most critics, when they even bother to mention this great film in talking about Bunuel, this is nothing but a 'flawed' film, a commercial chore or 'assignment.' To that I'll have to say: "If only 1 out of a 100 commercial 'chores' ended up as fascinatingly timeless as "Death in the Garden," the cinema would go through a major cultural revival!" The 'flaws' in this film are further aspects of its pefection, if taken in the proper 'absurdist' perspective the film has toward 'reality.' It has its lunatic elements and a few supernatural angles like all Bunuel films, but it also showcases the 'romantic' side of the man too often labeled a pessimist. By 'romantic' I mean, he's managed to fit his auteurist obsessions within a colorful, picturesque film about amoral adventurers in the Amazon jungle who descend into 'the Heart of Darkness.' Also, for one thing, there is some twisted heroism, or 'anti-heroism' going on here. The completely 'amoral' yet not unadmirable Georges Marchal character "Shark" is the closest thing to an Yves Montand/Wages-of-Fear type tough-guy 'hero' Bunuel ever got.

On the surface "Death in the GArden" is a "Wages of Fear" like adventure story (Charles Vanel from Clouzot's masterpiece is one of the main characters) where a bunch of people are put under pressure and forced to work together and survive. The people putting the pressure on are the military fascists not the industrialist-fascists of "Wages of ear." The story happens in a South American state, where a bunch of Diamond miners are being chased out by the corrupt military government. When a small-scale civil war breaks out, the leaders of the rebels become hunted men, and they have to escape by boat, ending up in a rain-soaked amazon jungle trying to get to Brazil. The characters have to cooperate and survive under an increasingly hopeless situation and reveal fascinating aspects of themselves in the process. To incorporate Bunuel's anti-clerical satire, of course, one of them is a Nazarin-like priest, brilliantly portrayed by a very young Michel Piccoli. And like all Bunuel films, there are no moral black and whites to be found anywhere, no stereotypes, but only a dynamically evolving morality shaded in different grays leaning toward the black here, toward the white there, depending on the situation that's being dealt with. You come to have a deep level of sympathy with almost every rogue main character in the film, even Simone Signoret's avaricious Madame, but only after examining them as totally flawed human beings capable of many bizzare deeds, some admirable, others despicable, etc.

Like most of Bunuel's films, "Death in the Garden" gets its main tone , originality, relevance, and philosophical strength from the hilariously absurd farcical scenes that constantly frustrate the action (but not in a totally irrational way as in the later allegorical, surrealist films), a deep identification with religion in order to remain that much more strongly anticlerical, and a complete lack of sentimentality; unlike most other Bunuel, this one has ravishingly beautiful color cinematography (very lush and colorful, almost Renoir-like, Renoir being an obvious favorite of Bunuel's since he not only re-made "Diary of a Chambermaid," but used Zachary Scott from "The Southerner," as his lead actor in "The Young One," his, in some ways Southerner-like foray into and artistic, if not commercial, conquest of American Cinema). Oh yeah! Did I mention the beautiful young deaf girl whose long hair gets stuck in a tree?! What more could you want? This is definitely a MASTERPIECE film that should be transferred to a good DVD as soon as feasible. The Interama video copy uses a scratchy old print, is not letterboxed, and has readable but ugly subtitles; yet, the beauty of this film comes through even in that format.

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