The Exterminating Angel (1962)

directed by Luis Bunuel

The Exterminating Angel is as absurd as surrealism can get and that is what makes it so enjoyable and entertaining to watch. Basically, this is the premise. After a dinner party, a group of upper class people don't seem to be able to leave the room. Simple, but brilliant. The film of course, is open to numerous interpretations and surely none of them are completely correct. That is what surrealism is about, and this is surrealism at its peak. The wealthy acting like poor, the audience being teased to find an explanation, a bear in a house, a doctor tries to hide the fact that someone in the room is dead and hundreds of other elements are found in this movie. 

The film is not only criticizing the upper class, it also criticizes the human being as a limited species that depends on social norms and formalities to feel comfortable. This group of people is faced with the challenge of leaving a room but nobody manages to. They are forced to deal with death, thirst, hunger, frustration, boredom, sex, betrayal, drugs and secrecy. In this small room with a small group of people, Bunuel is actually building a whole world. Call it Earth or call it your own mind, the difficulties of breaking the barriers of the conventional through creativity have haunted humankind forever. We are trapped in this world and are bound to a social and political context. If you shake that up a bit and change the situational context, people find a way to adapt and that's what happens in the film. 

Think of existentialism, nihilism, egoism, survival, religion, fear, the importance of social structures and the role of oneself in a determined group of people. It's all about perception. 

The film uses plenty of repetitions unexpectedly. Most go unnoticed, but so do repetitions in real life. Having said that, The Exterminating Angel deserves various viewings. Extremely witty and humorous, this is one of the best Bunuel films of his mexican period. 

Extremely recommended.
Rating: 9.25/10


Anonymous said...

cool blog! you should do a piece on one flew over the cookoo's nest.

Bob Clapes said...

Thanks! I will definitely write a post on Cukoo's nest soon.