Sunday, February 05, 2012

Luis Buñuel: Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe, Luis Buñuel's 1954 color movie version of Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe . . ., breathes new life into a story that many people already know too much about. By once again forcing the protagonist out of his world and into the new -- on a semi-isolated island -- the reader/moviegoer is forced to think afresh about things like survival, culture, civilization, technology and spirit. In addition to highlighting these things, Buñuel, using his technique of move-a-bit-and-then-suddenly-stop (sometimes with effective zooming involved) camera work, takes time to consider animals, insects, foliage, water, bread, fire, tobacco and booze. Social relationships are investigated, between human, dog, cat and bird, for instance, and of course between Robinson Crusoe and the man he names "Friday" because, well, it's Friday when they first run into each other.

Buñuel's Robinson Crusoe is certainly interesting and the film is a fun one. In one of my favorite scenes, Robinson is delirious with fever and hallucinates his father's presence while desperately thirsty. The elder Crusoe pours water over a pig while speaking of family and God -- among other things. It's a truly weird mix of comedy and existentially-minded surrealism. I wish there was more of this! Under the circumstances of production at the time, however, Buñuel could only fit in so much. The majority of the film is "normal:" not exactly realistic, but moving in that direction. 

Today's Rune: Partnership. Congrats to the NY Giants & Happy Birthday, Mr. Burroughs. Finally, a salute to Daniel Defoe, who was about sixty years old when The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe . . . , his *first* novel, came out.    


Charles Gramlich said...

Did you ever see Robinson Crusoe on Mars? Great little SF film

Erik Donald France said...

Hey Charles, I should see that again. I remember Adam West is in it, as a ghost or hallucination or Martian replication.