Criterion Collection Pick of the Week

Welcome to The Criterion Collection Pick of the Week.  This new column will focus on one film per week in the collection’s vast and extensive library of titles.  Some of the films featured will have titles you may have heard of.  Some will be hidden gems that you’ve never heard of.  All in all, this is supposed to bring out your inner cinephile (unless you take an extensive amount of film history and filmmaking classes like I do).

Also, for those who are taking film history classes this year, this is not the place to be looking for help on those screening journals.  Sorry, I’m not a certified scholar who’s brilliant enough to know every nit-pick detail in each of the films.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Director: Luis Bunuel

Country: France

Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.

Bunuel (pronounced BOON-well), one of the filmmakers behind the seminal avant-garde short Un Chien Andalou, sticks with his surrealist vision in this masterpiece (which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) that will make you hate the upper class and keep you scratching your head.  The story is simple: six friends who are part of the upper class of French society try to have a dinner party.  That’s it.

Think this doesn’t make an intriguing and funny film? Think again.  During the course of doing so they get ambushed by the army, thrown onto a stage, and constantly talk about their wants and desires (What else do you think the bourgeoise talk about?).  Each situation is both frightening and funny, as the six try to have their dinner in peace and quiet.

I consider this film “The Original Inception” because much of the film deals with dreams.  The six bourgeoisie continuously are having dreams, but it is impossible to tell where those dreams begin, end, or if the film is entirely one dream.  Why are they walking down a country road in the middle of nowhere not talking to each other?  Why is each situation more outrageous than the last one?

Much of the film creates a distaste for the upper class, just like the current times when Occupy Wall Street has become a worldwide event to remove excess power in corporate hands.  I see much of the six friends like the corporate heads, giving a film much more urgency than it ever did before.  Concepts and ideas that were relevant to Bunuel and the global society in the early 1970s relate to today.  The film gives a reason to hate with no reasoning whatsoever.  All you see is people in the upper class complaining about what is not available and disruptions that ruin their plans, but their arrogance is what will make you hate them even more.

The film goes from realistic to absurd theatre over the course.  The last situation (which will not be given away) contains objects and food that look like props.  I see this as the growth of the group’s materialistic desires and how they are played out in the lower classes mind.  What it does prove is that what common folk see is excess while the bourgeoisie can’t tell beyond their class standards.

This film is perfect for those who want to pick their brains while giving reason to revolt against our own bourgeoisie.


Image credit: Google

Screenwriter. Humanities scholar. Cinephile. Samantha hails from Richmond, Virginia. She hates Hollywood synergy and people that get on her nerves. When she's not busy writing her next masterpiece or watching movies on Netflix and Hulu Plus, she serves on Student Senate, Student Life, SSSF, and SLAC where she tries to make "home" a better place for other students. Samantha would also like for people to understand that she loves Jean-Luc Godard films, even though he's anti-semitic and she's a Jew.

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