Friday, September 07, 2012

Luis Buñuel: Subida al cielo / Ascent to Heaven, Take I

Pleased to have gotten a copy of Luis Buñuel's Subida al cielo / Ascent to Heaven / Mexican Bus Ride (Mexico 1952; USA 1954).  It's a wonderful small budget film, so matter-of-fact, so low-key, yet a microcosm of the entire world.

The film begins and ends in a small Mexican coastal village. In between is an existential bus ride to a distant city across wild terrain. The bus is populated with archetypal characters such as a congressional candidate, a pregnant woman, a callow new husband, a Bible vixen, a jovial driver, a veteran mother and kids, a man with a peg leg and a variety of farm animals. Despite its billing as such, Subida al cielo / Ascent to Heaven / Mexican Bus Ride is not a comedy, exactly, although there are strong elements attendant to the tradition of the comedy of manners. Overall, though, it takes in the whole human condition, including acknowledgement of tragedy and absurdity, primal actions and random chance.

There is also a central story arc: Oliverio (the earnest newlywed), at the behest of his bedridden mother, must make an epic bus trek in order to secure her dying wishes, thereby preventing his greedy brothers from taking everything against her will. Oliverio's bride has been left with his mother and little cousin, while he faces the seductions of the Bible vixen and a race against time.

Here in Buñuel is a man who knows his Bible stories well, thanks to a Jesuit education. Of course, familiarity with these stories in the hands of such a subversive visionary make for some interesting threads and twists to look out for.

Today's Rune: Movement.            

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Say I were interested in such a film, where the heck would I find it? On Amazon?