24 user 37 critic

The Milky Way (1969)

La voie lactée (original title)
Two drifters go on a pilgrimage from France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Along the way, they hitchhike, beg for food, and face the Christian dogmas and heresies from different Ages.


Luis Buñuel (as Luis Bunuel)


Luis Buñuel (as Luis Bunuel), Jean-Claude Carrière

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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Frankeur ... Pierre
Laurent Terzieff ... Jean
Alain Cuny ... L'homme à la cape / Man with cape
Edith Scob ... La Vierge Marie / Virgin Mary
Bernard Verley ... Jésus / Jesus
François Maistre François Maistre ... Le curé fou / French Priest
Claude Cerval ... Le brigadier / Brigadier
Muni ... La mère supérieure / Mother Superior
Julien Bertheau ... Richard 'maître d'hôtel' / Maitre d'Hotel
Ellen Bahl Ellen Bahl ... Madame Garnier
Michel Piccoli ... Le marquis de Sade / The Marquis
Agnès Capri Agnès Capri ... La directrice de l'institution Lamartine / Teacher
Michel Etcheverry Michel Etcheverry ... L'inquisiteur / The Inquisitor
Pierre Clémenti ... L'ange de la mort / The Devil
Georges Marchal ... Le jésuite / The Jesuit


Two drifters go on a pilgrimage from France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Along the way, they hitchhike, beg for food, and face the Christian dogmas and heresies from different Ages.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


M/PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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France | Italy


French | Italian | Latin | Spanish

Release Date:

15 March 1969 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Milky Way See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to his autobiography, My Last Sigh, Luis Buñuel got the idea of making the film after reading Historia de los heterodoxos españoles by Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo. See more »


Early in the film, as the two pilgrims are on the shoulder of the highway, the shadow of the boom mic is clearly visible moving from right to left across the grass and finally off screen. See more »


Rodolphe, un étudiant protestant: Faith doesn't come to us through reason but through the heart
See more »


Featured in Buñuel: Atheist Thanks to God (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Simply By Taking the Catholic View of History and Heresies, Bunuel Has Created a Work of Surrealism.
17 March 2009 | by jzappaSee all my reviews

It's not a film that has all the answers. It's a film that casts doubt on all the answers we've had. Early in the film we hear the line, "A religion without mystery is not a religion at all. A heresy that denies a mystery can attract the weak and the shallow, but can never blot out the truth." My ears perked up. I was keenly interested in a film that was going to confront both religion and its opposition head on.

Two modern-day travelers are on the road as the film opens, from Paris to Spain. It's the customary episodic framework of the poor enduring as transient vagabonds feeling purpose in heading in a particular direction. It's also the even more customary fable of the wandering adventurer and his companion in search of revelation and virtue. Spanish-born absurdist filmmaker Luis Bunuel juxtaposes these narrative customs into a sort of cinematic reality existing in a unique dimension. The pilgrims are contemporary but time and space chaperon them in a continual instant and an all-encompassed earth science.

The protagonists of blasphemy and tradition portray their ideals in age-old Palestine, in the Europe of the Middle Ages, in the Age of Reason, and in today's hotels and fashionable restaurants, and on its boulevards. The Holy Virgin, her son Jesus and his young brothers, an arrogant ecclesiastical headwaiter and his submissive workers, a bleeding child by the roadside, the pope facing a firing squad, the Whore of Babylon ambushing ramblers, the Marquis de Sade, the Jansenist fencing with the Jesuit, Satan himself decked out as a rock star, an overzealously formal schoolmarm and her programmed little students chanting anathemas, self-righteous bishops and demented priests on the lam, this panoramic cast of characters, in itself a smirking take-off of Hollywood's epic ensembles, somehow expresses the barren conceptions of Christian dissent. Is there such a thing as the Holy Trinity? Was Christ God, man, and Holy Ghost one after the other, at the same time, or was he invariably just God the Father disguised as a human, so as to be seen? Was Jesus solely the mortal embodiment of a supreme spirit? Was his anguish then just facade? Because if he experienced pain at the hands of mortals, was he a god? Was Christ merely a smidgen of God's psyche? Are we free to discern between the exploits of Jesus the man and the teachings of Christ the god? Was Christ indeed two men, one born of God the Father, the other of Mary the Mother? Did Mary become pregnant in the same manner that light exceeds through a window glass? Did Jesus have brothers?

As Buñuel conceives visual substance to these religious contemplations, he does so with far- flung ability in banter and farce. The escaped lunatic believes that Christ is in the host like the rabbit is in the pâté. The pope's death by firing squad is something we'll never see. The debate of doctrine by the hostile maître d' and his waiters is in the royal practice of slapstick comedy. The dueling clerics clanking swords for Jesuitical piety and Jansenistic sin are a comic rendition of the vintage MGM swashbuckling jousts pared down to knowingly meaningless and irrational argument.

However, side by side with the broad comical tone, Buñuel is here tussling with the inconsistencies between faith and faithlessness. The young heretic who dons the hunter's garb and shoots at the rosary receives it back from the hands of the Virgin Mary and lets tears cascade down his heretical face. Really, as Pierre tells Jean when lightning strikes, God knows all, but we don't know what he knows. Buñuel apparently favored scenes which could just be pieced together by the ends in the editing room, producing long, mobile wide shots which follow the action. He aggregates all of these significations and implications into a streaming, uninterrupted visual existence recognizing the curious obscurities of both the comformists to the approved form of Christianity and the professed believers who nonetheless maintain contrary theologies and reject church-prescribed doctrines, while prosecuting the dogmatic certitudes of both. How else could you do it? It's a concept for a film that could only befit a surrealist.

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