The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Luis Buñuel’s Oscar-winning classic comedy, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie has been re-mastered and re-released.
The film focuses on a group of bourgeois friends as they try to have dinner. There are a number of increasingly bizarre events that keep the friends from being able to successfully complete their social engagement. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is made up of a series of barely related vignettes, some of which are dreams and some of which take place in Buñuel’s version of “reality”.
This is the type of film that does not focus on the sort of comedy with punchlines but rather the humour derives from the ridiculousness of the situations and how the characters behave in them, therefore making no sense and that is the intention. The plot deliberately eschews the conventional sequential narrative and consists of a series of nonsensical events designed to poke fun at the bourgeoisie and everyone else.
The film may not have a plot as such but uses form, icons and symbols to vaguely point at some sort of commentary. The gentleman who gets himself killed by greedily snatching at a slice of lamb from beneath the table, or the murderous Bishop who is happy to be employed as a gardener, are just some of the events that will mean different things to different people. The only real thread connecting the pieces of the film together, apart from the dinner, is the general air of inevitability. The characters seem constricted and seem to have very little to say in what happens to them.
Buñuel may not deal in the sort of comedy that will have audiences roaring with laughter but The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoisie is constantly playing with the audience. It’s a clever movie that will keep you smiling from the first few hints of surrealism to the clicking of shoes on the inexplicable country road. There is a nightmarish feel to the movie as well and not just because of the nightmares. There is an underlying futility and insanity that is reminiscent of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
The re-mastering process has managed to bring a certain vibrancy to the colour and the sound seems cleaner than some home media releases. One slightly unfortunate side effect of the re-mastering process is that the scenes that are shot on-location look decidedly grainy when compared to those shot on set. With the BFI holding an extended run of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, a new generation will be able to get to see this classic on the big screen.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie will be released by Optimum on DVD and Blu-Ray on 16th July 2012.
Watch the trailer for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie here: