Monday, August 06, 2012

Luis Buñuel: Mon dernier soupir

Thorougly enjoying Luis Buñuel's Mon dernier soupir (1982) / My Last Sigh (1983). The version I'm now reading is the University of Minnesota Press edition, Abigail Israel translation, 2003. "Jean-Claude Carrière . . . An attentive listener and scrupulous recorder during our many long coversations . . . helped me write this book" -- from the preliminaries. 

Buñuel (1900-1983) comes at things from an interesting perspective. He was born in a Spanish village that retained Medieval rhythms for many centuries. He experienced that lifestyle, followed by the bulk and tumult of the 20th century, starting with the Great War of 1914-1918, proceeding through the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War and the Cold War. He was a boy at the dawn of the cinema and eventually became a master at making movies right into the 1970s, stopping just long enough for this "last sigh" of a memoir. The things he saw and the changes he lived through must have been astonishing -- luckily he goes into some of them here.  

Another thing that becomes clearer from Buñuel's description is how much the Spanish Civil War seems remarkably like the Greek Civil War and the Russian Revolutions and Civil War, how like the Mexican Revolution, the Irish Civil War and also how like today's Syrian Civil War. People like to divide and fight. We're digital people with analog dreams. Buñuel gets at this also in La mort en ce jardin / Death in the Garden (1956) and Jean-Luc Godard does it in Les Carabiniers / The Carabineers (1963). Beyond the artists, though, as George Santayana put it, "Only the dead have seen the end of war" (1922).  

Today's Rune: Protection.    

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