Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bunuel, Dali and Lorca

A Filmmaker, a Painter and a Poet...........
In the beginning of the 1980s came an autobiography from Luis Bunuel," Mon
"Belle de Jour" Catherine Deneuve
dernier soupir"  (My Last Sigh). He was one of the great filmmakers with films like "Belle de Jour" and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and many other films from his French period. Later in his life he was instructing films in Mexico for many years. He made himself noticed in 1929 with "Un Chien Andalou" ,a scary shortfilm, which he made together with Dali. They both claimed to be the creator of this film later on. Bunuel was from his youth socializing with a group of young people, who later became famous writers and painters. He was good friends with Salvador Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca.

Luis was born in Calanda in Aragon in 1900. His father was a rich man, the owner of large properties in Calanda. Luis tells that his father did not do a day's work, he read newspapers, smoke Havanna cigars, drank wine, eat caviar, he had aperitif-time, lunch, a nap after dinner, change of dress, club, bridge, tresillo (card-game), friends, evening meal , theater, opera or operetta together with Luis' mother. The family's house in Calanda was built after the "bad taste" of that period, represented in Spain by the Catalonian painter and architect Gaudi.  His parents went often to Paris and came home with lots of gifts to the children. Luis had 4 sisters and 2 brothers. His father died in 1923 and Luis was now the head of the family. He left for Paris in 1925.

When he was 8 years old, he was in a cinema for the first time; besides a pianist was an explicador, who commented the plot of the movie. When he was 12, he still believed that the babies came from Paris. He began playing violin when he was 13, and a house maid carried the violin for him. He had some terrible doubts about religion, doomsday was an unbelievable scene with all those billions of people, and why the purgatory?  He went to a Catholic school by the Jesuit monks. A school day was from 7.30 till late afternoon. The school rooms were never heated, and the children wore big scarves, however they had frozen ears, hands and toes. The disciplin was very strict. Each misconduct was followed by a penalty, they had to lie on their knees with a heavy book on each hand  -  all day were they watched over by lynx-eyed guardians, they were never alone. Go to the bathroom alone was also forbidden - there was no contact between the pupils, they sat in two rows with a one meter distance and folded arms, silence, religion, Catechism, Latin, and a final  challenge, which was a contest on the day's lesson. In spite of the strict discipline the boys were boys.  He went to a café and drank some snaps, his two friends pretended to drink, but Luis drank and became sick, he saw double and was swaying, he fell on his knees during mass at school and threw up on the holy stone floor -  he was threatened with suspension.

children at Kalø Castle ruin
One summer Luis and his siblings and cousins went without permission to the neighbouring town Foz, dressed in fine clothes;  they went about 5 kilometer to the family-estates; they visited all of them and had sherry and pancakes in every place. They became gradually a little fuddled. On their way home they went into the church yard, where Luis lay down upon the inquest table and asked to be cut up. His sister's head got stuck in a hole by a grave. They went to some rock caves, where they foolhardily climbed the rocks and went through the tunnels with only an altar candle. They got lost, they were scared of the bats and were hungry. Luis offered chivalrously to sacrifice himself to be eaten by the others, but his sister Conchita asked on her crying knees that they should eat her instead, for she was the youngest and the most tender and the most stupid. They were found at last and brought home on a cart. Luis was unconscious, he had a sunstroke - or was it the drunk or was it tactics? For two whole days the parents adressed the children in the third person, but Luis heard his father proudly telling his guests about their adventure and about Luis' heroism.

Luis went to Madrid University in 1917 after his high-school certificate. He wanted to be a composer, to get away from Spain to Paris, but his father said no. "Composers die from hunger". He studied agriculture, changed to industrial engineer, then natural history and changed to philosophy, so he could get abroad. Luis was anarchist. King Alfonso 13 and queen Victoria visited the university. Luis was overawed, adressed him Majesty and was embarrassed afterwards, but then he discovered he had kept his hat on, so his honor was saved.
Luis' friends and aquaintances included many, who later became famous personalities. His good friends were Dali and Lorca. Federico Garcia Lorca was born in Granada in Andalusia in 1899. He drew people to him with his superior talents, his charm and deliberate elegance, when he sat down by the piano playing Chopin.  He was like a flame. No one could resist his magnetic charisma. He was the son of a landowner from Granada. Luis Bunuel and Lorca were inseparable, The clumsy Aragon and the elegant Andalusian. Lorca was neither effeminate or affected, and he became angry by the accusation maricon ( gay). In another source outside Bunuels autobiography is said that Lorca was openly homosexual.

Salvador Dali was from Catalonia, born in 1904 in  Figueras the son of a notary; he was called the Czech painter, and he had exhibitions already in 1926-27 in Madrid. When he had an examen from the art academy he pronounced: "No one present is able to judge me! Goodbye and thank you!" He was expelled. Dali was once thrown out from the family house by his father because he had written degrading words upon a painting of his mother.

Gala, Paul Eluards' wife, lived together with Dali for many years. When he and Gala were in USA, they went to a carnival where Gala was dressed as Charles Lindbergh's kidnapped baby. The Americans were furious. 

Dali had a meeting with three Mexicans at a café, where he referred them to talk with Gala. She demanded 10.000 dollars for an interview. "Dali's steak costs 10.000 dollars today," she said. Dali was often seen with a leopard in a gold braid. Later source: Salvador Dalí frequently traveled with his pet ocelot Babou, even bringing it aboard the luxury ocean liner, SS France.
His only real relationship was with Gala. His relations to rich American women were odd. He asked them to undress , then he placed a fried egg upon their shoulder and asked them to go back home again.
Dali was the most clumsy person. He had to be accompanied across the street, and he couldn't manage to buy tickets. " How do you do it?" He wrote in his autobiography that Luis Bunuel was an anarchist, and Luis was fired from New York's Museum, where he was in that period. Luis scolded him, and Dali answered: " I wrote the book to glorify myself - not you."

Luis married Jeanne in 1925 and was married to her the rest of his life. They had two sons. Bunuel lived for many years in Mexico where he instructed 21 films. He died in 1983 in Mexico. Dali died in 1989,  Gala died in 1982. After Gala's death,  lost Dalí much of his will to live. Lorca was executed in 1936 by the fascist milits.It is not known where he is buried.

This is a little of what Luis Bunuel has told. It would be too much to write more. There are other informations elsewhere. Many were involved in the group around Luis and the others, both from his youth in Madrid and later from Paris - Pablo Picasso, Andre Breton, Pedro Garfias, Appollinaire, Tanguy, Ugarte etc. etc. -  and there are deviant sources and deviant informations to find outside the words of Luis Bunuel, but so it has to be when it is about an autobiography. Different opinions from various people. How would it be if we wrote an autobiography?

I don't think I have done anything for money which I did not want to do. People cannot buy me to say yes, no matter how much money they offer. What I deny to do for a dollar, I will not do for a million. 

Luis Bunuel.

If you'd like to read about Spain and about the period of the surrealists then I can recommend Bunuels' book.

Source: Mit sidste suk, Luis Bunuel , 1982


Teresa Evangeline said...

As you can imagine, I find this all so very fascinating. I think I'm going to have to start a winter reading list, with this very near the top. Thank you for whetting my appetite for more from all these gentlemen.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I meant to add; I Love that little one in your header.

Wanda..... said...

What a captivating header, Grethe! The 'Little Philosopher' does look to be deep in thought!

Thyra said...

Hello Teresa! I hope you'll meet these three gentlemen and their friends and enjoy their stories.
Very entertaining and sometimes crazy!
Grethe `)

Thyra said...

Thank you Wanda, I love that little guy too, he's a favorite. I don't know who he is, but he is so cute and he really looks so thougthful.

Teresa you also noticed that little guy! Thank you!

Grethe ´)