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aka - Angel Exterminador, El
Mexico 1962
Directed by
Luis Bunuel
95 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

The Exterminating Angel

One of Bunuel's best-known films and cementing his international resurgence as a director after the success of Nazarin (1958), The Exterminating Angel is in many ways a fully-developed statement of his (and Salvador Dali's) surrealist classic Un Chien Andalou (1928) - severed body parts, unmotivated repetitions, dream sequences are among the devices mixed into the already bizarre-enough basic scenario which, according to Bunuel's son, was, inspired by Géricault's famous painting The Raft of Medusa (the titles give credit to a "cinedrama" by Bunuel and Luis Alcoriza entitled Los Naugrafos de la Calle de la Providencia, itself apparently freely adapted from an unpublished play by José Bergamin).

The film depicts a kind of shipwreck as a group of well-to-do, high society people who, after a dinner party at an upscale restaurant, find themselves inexplicably unable to leave the room they are in and over the course of the ensuing days largely degenerate into a "pre-civilized" condition. Although what "the exterminating angel" is is open to conjecture, the film is an allegorical exposition of the director's view of the hollowness of bourgeois society, indeed, as the final segments suggest, of all social structures, and in this respect is more didactic than dramatically engaging. It is nevertheless one of the most remarkable examples of cinema as art with a fine albeit anachronistically old-fashioned visual style provided by the director's Mexican DOP, Gabriel Figueroa.

DVD Extras: Restored master, an academic text essay in booklet form by Dr Ernesto R. Acevedo-Munoz and an audio commentary by film critic, Adrian Martin.

Available from: Madman




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