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7 Filmmakers Deeply Influenced by Luis Buñuel

How Woody Allen, David O. Russell and more were impacted by the surrealist filmmaker's work.

Un Chien Andalou

“Un Chien Andalou”


Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel died in 1983, but his films continue to inspire many filmmakers today, including Woody Allen and David O. Russell. New York’s Metrograph theater is presenting a series of the surrealist filmmaker’s work from March 30 to April 6 entitled “Buñuel in France” that will feature five of his films. Buñuel directed 35 movies between 1929 and 1977.

READ MORE: Watch: Was Luis Buñuel a Fetishist? A Video Essay

Here are seven filmmakers who have listed a Buñuel film in their top 10 movies of all time.

Woody Allen

Allen’s favorite Buñuel film is 1972’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” the famous comedy about six middle-class people attempting to have a meal together. Allen wore his inspiration on his shirt sleeve in his 2011 fantasy-comedy “Midnight in Paris,” casting the actor Adrien De Van to play Buñuel in a scene also featuring the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody) and visual artist Man Ray (Tom Cordier). “You’re surrealists,” Owen Wilson’s Gil says in the scene, “but I’m a normal guy.”

Jonathan Glazer

The “Under the Skin” co-writer and director cites “L’Age d’Or” as his favorite Buñuel film. The 1930 dramatic comedy follows a pair of lovers who are unable to consummate their love due to repeated interruptions from their family members, the church, and bourgeois society. Glazer’s 2004 mystery-romance “Birth” starring Nicole Kidman was co-written by Buñuel’s longtime collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, who co-wrote “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.”

Miguel Gomes

The Portuguese filmmaker’s favorite Buñuel film is “El,” the 1953 drama-romance about an aristocrat who becomes paranoid and delusional after getting married to a beautiful woman. Buñuel’s influence on Gomes shines through in his third feature film, 2012’s “Tabu,” about a restless retired woman and a maid who seek out a man with a secret connection to her past life.

Guy Maddin

The director of 2007’s “My Winnipeg,” Maddin cites “L’Age d’Or” as his favorite Buñuel film. “I’m a primitive, and ‘L’Age d’Or’ and ‘Eraserhead’ will always be a couple of my touchstones,” Maddin told The Guardian in 2015. “I realize my Olympus is a shanty town.”

Gaspar Noe

The “Enter the Void” director’s favorite Buñuel film is 1929’s “Un Chien Andalou,” the 17-minute short film that began his career. “There are two major masterpieces that really brought the language of dreams or nightmares to the screen. The initial one is Dalí and Buñuel’s ‘Un Chien Andalou,’ and then later, David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead,'” Noe told The New York Times in 2015. “Besides being clearly a free man, he had the funniest black humor I can think of. Nowadays only Todd Solondz can make me laugh that much.”

David O. Russell

Russell cites “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” as his favorite Buñuel film. In an interview about “I Heart Huckabees,” Russell said the stark set design and costume design of the film was influenced by Buñuel’s visual style. “I was watching a lot of Buñuel and he tends to — especially in ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” — harmonize the colors so it’s almost black and white,” Russell told the BBC.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Indie Films About Sex

Aki Kaurismaki

The Finnish filmmaker’s favorite Buñuel film is “L’Age d’Or.” “A sharp oppositional attitude to mainstream films has been characteristic of Kaurismäki from the very beginning,” one film critic wrote about the director. “That comes from Robert Bresson and Luis Buñuel.”

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