About the young life and loves of artist Salvador Dalí, filmmaker Luis Buñuel and writer Federico García Lorca.About the young life and loves of artist Salvador Dalí, filmmaker Luis Buñuel and writer Federico García Lorca.About the young life and loves of artist Salvador Dalí, filmmaker Luis Buñuel and writer Federico García Lorca.
Rich in what we know and can imagine about a sort of popular life that we have shared into from our position as audience of one or the other, in the opportunities to annotate a multitudinous artistic life across so many different canvases, and to leverage all that as cinema about the dawn and twilight of the first truly modern era. The first time in history that we could really picture ourselves and, using ourselves, bring to life complex inner worlds.
So we have Garcia Lorca: but no fiery duende that rises from the soles of the feet and stirs the heart into song like he wrote about. Beauty when it comes by, is rather plain and ordinary and treated with the faux-lushness of a period film. The man himself is the textbook version of spurned lover and idealist.
We have Dali, him above all: but only ersatz madness and caprice, a hedonistic adonis caricature wholly attacked from the outside and using a fodder of replaceable mannerisms, with the mustache curved a little upwards as we know from pictures, and many rants about genius and breaking limits. But nothing about actually breaking them and none of the sublime intuition that melts time and is the revenge of abstract interior space upon the solid forms of history.
And Bunuel, a little beside the other two: godless, fierce, radical, tormented, but a mere stubborn footnote in the exchange of visual platitudes about love and art - as exemplified by how vibrant feels among the rest of the film the short clip from Un Chien, of course the eponymous scene.
So it's really sad that we have to settle for this, by itself a tame and harmless bout of youthful exuberance, a sort of safe exuberance that is nowhere as complex and impulsive as these people surely lived if we judge by their work, but really the most dismaying in context of these people and that work.
The film could have been issued as part of any one of these peoples' vision and shaped accordingly: a poem on evanescent beauty, an absinthe dream, a vicious social statement, ideally conflating all three as their shared adventure across tumultuous worlds. The whole could transform as words and colors were added.
So just a lot of ordinary panache is doubly insulting in this case. The pen-strokes all pontificate banalities. This is everything these people worked against all their lives, so to be so stereotypically embalmed in it?
- Feb 12, 2012