1 P.M. / $6 GENERAL / $5 SENIOR

March 3ʳᵈ

“. . . Written by Jean-Claude Carrière in collaboration with the director. The film was made in France and is mainly in French, with some dialogue in Spanish.The narrative concerns a group of upper middle class people attempting—despite continual interruptions—to dine together. The film received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. ” – Wikipedia

“. . . From the first shots of “Discreet Charm,” we are aware of the way his characters carry themselves. They exude their status; they are sure of who they are, and wear their position in society like a costume. Fernando Rey’s little peacock of an ambassador, Stephane Audran’s rich hostess, Bulle Ogier’s bored and alcoholic sister–all act as if they’re playing roles. And consider the bishop (Julien Bertheau), who appears at the door in gardener’s clothes and is scornfully turned away, only to reappear in his clerical garb to “explain himself,” and be embraced. In Bunuel the clothes not only make the man, but are the man (especially true for a director with lifelong fetishes involving clothes and shoes).
The movie is broken into self-contained sequences, showing the bland surface of polite society and the lusts that lurk beneath. A couple expects guests for dinner. In the bedroom, they are overcome by lust. The guests arrive. Now they cannot make love in the bedroom because the wife “makes too much noise,” the husband complains, so they sneak out a window and passionately couple in the woods. Then they sneak back into the house, leaves and grass in their hair. Bourgeoisie manners, Bunuel believes, are the flimsiest facade for our animal natures. Another example: After soldiers open fire on dinner guests, a man escapes death by hiding under a table, but betrays himself by greedily reaching up for the meat still on his plate.
The film’s narrative flow is cheerfully shattered by Bunuel’s devices. As women have drinks in a garden cafe, a lieutenant walks over and begins a harrowing tale of childhood. We see his story in flashback. He finishes, bids them good day, and leaves. A dinner party develops strangely when the roast chickens are dropped by the servant and turn out to be stage props–and then the curtain goes up and the guests find themselves on stage before an audience. Dreams fold within dreams, not because the characters are confused, but because Bunuel is amusing himself by using such obvious tricks. . . .”- Roger Ebert

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie


Directed by
Luis Buñuel

1 hours &
45 minutes


French | Spanish


“. . . Part of a “trilogy” about journeys that began with La voie lactée (Milky Way, 1969) and ended with Le fantôme de la liberté (The Phantom of Liberty, 1974), the opening image of the wandering bourgeoisie establishes the film’s structure as reliant upon a cycle of increasing incoherence. This replaces the usual motion of film into catharsis and closure. The minimalism of the plot asks that we pay close attention to how the story is told. We watch, listen and watch again. We must be aware but not too aware, as ultimately our own answers will teach us how to consume this film.Gone is the grace of narration and “form”-ally announcing itself is the theme of interruption – a device that will keep us constantly aloft, yet engaged. Once deemed anarchistic and surreal, Buñuel’s tendency to interrupt a narrative line had become Oscar-worthy by the time of the film’s release. The classical, modern form of bourgeois art emphasises the qualities of order, proportion and harmony. The deceptive charms of the characters and tinges of fluxed narrative keep us transfixed as though we are watching a Hollywood tale from the golden era. Any keen purveyor of Mme Senechal’s (Stéphane Audran) sartorial sashaying of silk and little black dresses are instantly transported every time she appears on screen, swigging a martini or panting with her lover at high noon. The endless seductive glamour of the six main characters helps to sustain a certain sense of rationality that carries us through the film, despite all-else rallying against it. Buñuel uses the ordinary yet comical annoyance of interruptions as a structural tool to play out the “anti-form” of the film. This is introduced through the nature and extent of interruptions that guarantee the virtual absence of a continuous plot. A unity of contraries is aptly displayed by the bishop-turned-gardener-turned-murderer and the incongruities of space such as the restaurant turned into a funeral parlour and the dining room transformed into a theatrical stage. In one scene the stage is literally set for mockery, as an interruption comes when the curtain rises to reveal that the group are all part of an on-stage performance! Being an agitator against the bourgeoisie, Buñuel keenly reminds us at every twist and turn that their civilisation is precarious. So, when struggling to curb his rebellious reflexes to fit in with their traditional artistic ideals, to his and our amusement, he doesn’t. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie demonstrates that form and anti-form can co-exist, paving the way for later generations of experimental narrative filmmakers such as David Lynch and Pedro Almodóvar . . . .” –Melissa Acker for Senses of Cinema

“ A lot of “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” is made up of dreams—at times, of dreams within dreams, at other times, dreams that one person has dreamed that another dreamed. Sometimes they are just the dreams of a passer-by. You’ve never seen so many wish fulfillments. However, much of it is not a dream, and all of it is real — the unique creation of a director who, at 72, has never been more fully in control of his talents, as a filmmaker, a moralist, social critic and humorist.One must talk about these things; yet they tend to flatten the special exhilaration that “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” inspires when you see it. That exhilaration has to do with the awareness that you’re watching a genius at work through any number of indications, some almost minuscule. ” Vincent Canby in 1972 for The New York Times

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