The Exterminating Angel – Luis Buñuel (1962)

The Exterminating Angel (Spanish: El ángel exterminador) is a 1962 surrealist film, written and directed by Luis Buñuel, starring Silvia Pinal, and produced by her then-husband Gustavo Alatriste. The movie follows a group of wealthy guests finding themselves unable to leave after a lavish dinner party, and the chaos that ensues afterward. Sharply satirical and allegorical, the film contains a view of the aristocracy suggesting they ‘harbor savage instincts and unspeakable secrets’.  It is considered one of the best 1,000 films by The New York Times, and was adapted into an opera in 2016. During a formal dinner party at the lavish mansion of Señor Edmundo Nóbile and his wife Lucía, the servants unaccountably leave their posts until only the major-domo is left. After dinner the guests adjourn to the music room, where one of the women, Blanca, plays a piano sonata. Later, when they might normally be expected to return home, the guests curiously remove their jackets, loosen their gowns, and settle down for the night on couches, chairs and the floor. By morning it is apparent that, for some inexplicable reason, they are unable to leave. The guests consume what little drinks and food are left from the previous night’s party. Days pass, and their plight intensifies; they become thirsty, hungry, quarrelsome, hostile, and hysterical. Only Dr. Carlos Conde, applying logic and reason, manages to keep his composure and guide the guests through the ordeal. One guest, the elderly Sergio Russell, dies, and his body is placed in a large cupboard. Later, Béatriz and Eduardo, a young engaged couple, lock themselves in a closet and commit suicide. The guests eventually manage to break a wall open enough to access a water pipe. In the end, several sheep and a bear break loose from their bonds and find their way to the room; the guests take in the sheep and proceed to slaughter and roast them on fires made from floorboards and broken furniture.  … Though Buñuel never states what the symbolism represents, leaving it to the viewer’s understanding, one critic, Roger Ebert, wrote a lengthy interpretation of the film’s symbolism, which includes the following paragraph: ‘The dinner guests represent the ruling class in Franco’s Spain. Having set a banquet table for themselves by defeating the workers in the Spanish Civil War, they sit down for a feast, only to find it never ends. They’re trapped in their own bourgeois cul-de-sac. Increasingly resentful at being shut off from the world outside, they grow mean and restless; their worst tendencies are revealed.’ …”
Criterion – The Exterminating Angel: Exterminating Civilization
sensesofcinema – The Castaways of Providence Street: On Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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