Saturday, February 25, 2012

Luis Buñuel: La mort en ce jardin, Take Three

Luis Buñuel's La mort en ce jardin (1956) / Death in the Garden. Once away from the miner village in the first part of the film, a motley assemblage of key characters must flee by river and then into thick jungle, in a frenzied attempt to reach Brazil before pursuing soldiers overtake them. Once into the wild, desperately hungry and going loopy, different characters unravel while partially clinging to notions they learned in "civilization."  Castin (Charles Vanel), suffering from a head wound, and Father Lizardi (Michel Piccoli), the Catholic priest, are affected the most. Castin turns to dark thoughts, while Lizardi is torn between his theoretical beliefs and the more immediate needs of group survival. In a particularly noteworthy scene, he guiltily tears sheets from his cherished Bible as possible fuel for a small fire.

The theme of trying to hold on to sanity and some form of compassion while struggling for survival informs many compelling tales, real and imagined. A few spring to mind immediately: Buñuel's Robinson Crusoe (1954) and El ángel exterminador / The Exterminating Angel (1962); Peter Brooks' 1963 version of William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies; and Roman Polanski's The Pianist (2002), based on Władek Szpilman's 1945 memoir Śmierć Miasta / Death of a City. 

Do you have any favorites of this sort of survival story?  What grabbed your attention?

Today's Rune: Breakthrough.  

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

There are some very good tales set up like that. I always enjoy this type of story.