{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Friday, November 11, 2005

Buñuel on love.

I saw this book called An Unspeakable Betrayal: Selected Writings of Luis Buñuel from Google print.

Here is this interview of Luis Buñuel under the heading Surrealist Writings in the book, aptly titled On Love.

I. What sort of hopes do you place in love?
L.B.: If I am in love, all Hopes. If not, none.

II. How do you view the transition from the idea of love to the fact of being in love? Willingly or otherwise would you sacrifice your freedom to love? Have you ever done so? Would you consent, if you felt it necessary in order to be worthy of love, to sacrifice a cause that up to that point have considered yourself bound to defend? Would you agree not to become what you might have been, if at the price you could fully savor the certainty of love? How would you judge a man who would go so far as to betray his convictions to please the woman he loves? Can such a pledge be asked of him and obtained?


1) For me nothing exists for the fact of being in love.
2) I would gladly sacrifice my freedom for love. I have already done so.
3) I would sacrifice a cause for the sake of love. But the remains to be seen in the moment.
4) Yes.
5) I would judge him favorably. But nevertheless, I would ask this man not to betray his convictions. I would even go so far as to insist on it.

III. Would you acknowledge the right to deprive yourself for a time of the presence of the person you love, knowing how exhilarating absence can be for love, yet aware of the mediocrity of such a strategy?
L.B.: I would not like to separate myself from the loved one. At any cost.

IV. Do you believe in the victory of admirable love over sordid life, or that of sordid life over admirable love.
L.B.: I don't know.


Alok said...

I am surprised. Bunuel sonds so romantic. His films are stinging critiques of romanticism of all kinds -- personal as well as political.

Alok said...

actually Bunuel's films are critiques of the idea that love has some "higher", spiritual meaning. He sees love for what it is. At a purely material and physical level. And he crtitices insitutions, like religion, which delude people by propagating dangerous fictions.

anurag said...

But from the interview it seems that he is willing to leave all for love. I too had a very hard character sketch of Bunuel in my mind, but now it seems to have mellowed down.

Alok said...

He actually had a very stable and meaningful family life also.

This actually proves his point. Being a realist always helps

ventilatorblues said...

His autobiography My Last Sigh gives a very nice account of Bunuel's childhood and coming of age. You definitely get a more complete picture of the man than you could hope to by watching his films.

I am confused by your rhetoric. For me, Bunuel's films are not critiques of religion in general. Neither do they take any clear stand on whether love has a spiritual meaning. Seen Simon of the Desert? Now what does that film REALLY mean? :)

anurag said...

Thanks ventilatorblues, I will try to check it out, but its difficult to get here in India. For now I am planning to see two of his movies that my DVD library has, Belle de jour and Diary of a Chambermaid. The third one, That Obscure Object of Desire, I have seen. Judging by this movie, Bunuel seems more of a critique of society and relationships, we can say a social-critique.

I know( though I haven't seen) a lot of Bunuel's movies and question and critique religion, like Viridiana, Nazarin.

ventilatorblues said...

Yes, definitely, he parodied social conventions and the more confining aspects of Catholic belief, but he was a deeply spiritual person himself, just not someone with blind faith, but someone who arrived at his own inner faith through a process of questioning and subversion. As you will notice in Obscure Object, Bunuel accepts that love is an expression of selflessness and therefore has considerable spiritual significance, but he shows us an instance when this love tries to inhabit, as it were, the object of its attention, and the utter hopelessness of that condition. This is how I understand his statement about willing to give up love for freedom. I have always felt that deconstructing Bunuel's films to a single interpretation is almost impossible - because he is so subversive, we can never really know what he does believe in, although we may get a good idea of what his rant is against.

anurag said...

Believing in love, doesn't necessitate believing in god or being spritual.

I wasn't able to get much of 'That Obscure Object of Desire', but it did suggest what we can call 'Terrorism of desire in politics of relationships'.

Alok said...

VB: I thought simon of the desert was about the futililty of religious asceticism and a critique of pious humbuggery that passes of as christian homilies.

Bunuel was surely very interested in religious and spiritual questions, specially in the context of how these play out in our social conventions, but calling him "spiritual" will be taking things too far.

I mean, a man who could imagine things like Christ attendind a Sadean orgy, a blind man getting kicked, and in general mocking all human goodness (in Viridiana for example)...

As for love, he thinks it purely as a manifestation of physical desire...the point of "obscure object..." is in the title itself...it is within the nature of desire itself to turn reality on its head and turn it into something "obscure". same theme is played out in Belle de Jour. Desires have the power to turn reality upside down and further, you want to really understand it, or at least get a hang of it, look into you subconscious. This is what I think Bunuel wanted to convey in his later films.

Bunuel was an atheist and a materialist, totally angry and pissed off at the status quo and it was this line of thought that he portrayed in his films.