Fantastic in Spanish films - enigma Buńuel and his pupils
In the early 1970s when Italian film critic Goffredo Fofi met Luis Buńuel in his Parisian hotel, which overlooked the cemetery Montparnasse, his face reminded him of a great savant rather than of a surreal cannibal who devoured priests. Buńuel’s wisdom was the fruit of his experience. On one hand this experience was rooted in old folk and Catholic tradition and on the other it drew from the famous historical avant-garde. One of the mottos of Buńuel’s surrealist friends was that hunger is not an excuse for artistic prostitution. Buńuel remained faithful to this motto until the end. The only film he was ashamed of was his first Mexican film Gran Casino, described as 'war between tango and mariachis', which he made after turning his back on Hollywood. However, Buńuel’s whole opus cannot be valued without the burden put on his back by death, Catholic sin, and novels in the tradition of Don Quijote and Baroque moralists. Nevertheless, Buńuel’s Milky Way does not end in Santiago de Compostella, but rather began there, and continued in Paris and Mexico City. Later on he set off on his journey again but this time trying to understand human fickleness as well as the pulsing mystery of life and unavoidable death.
Buńuel’s film career began with perhaps the most notorious film prelude in the history of moving pictures - the one from An Andalusian Dog. However, the stages of the author’s Milky Way that we will see in Tuškanac, are from the time after his return from Mexican exile. This stage was begun with his film Viridiana, whose final scene showing beggars’ orgies, a sort of a parody to the Last Supper and accompanied by Handel’s music, remains one of the most brutal and disturbing film scenes. One year after Viridiana, Buńuel made the enigmatic The Exterminating Angel, one of the best examples of surrealism. His next film, Simon of the Desert in which the protagonist, just like King Kong, 'gets swooped from timelessness' into the cacophony of modern New York, is a sort of a bridge between the old Buńuel, the one from the Old Testament, and the new one, who peaked with the films Beautiful of the Day and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.
Buńuel left a permanent mark on the modern generation of Spanish filmmakers, whose opus is in constant play with our perception and is best described with the term Cine Fantastico. Some of the modern Spanish filmmakers include Olle who deconstructed Goethe’s Faust in collaboration with the theatre group La Fura dels Baus and Alejandro Amenabar in whose phantasmagoric opus everybody has to learn how to recognize intruders, know who is alive and who is dead. He successfully recycles the poetics of Beauty and The Beast (in Abre los ojos) or plays with classic mechanisms from ghost stories (in The Others). Even those authors who do not belong to the Spanish cinema like to return to Spain and look for the fantastic. This is what the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro did, first in The Devil's Backbone, and later in Pan's Labyrinth in which in surreal scenes Buńuel’s Dali is replaced by Goya. So, the enigma Buńuel is eternal and lasting. It is the films that make it easier for us to understand it better. (Dragan Rubeša)