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This book first came to my attention because Criterion often puts excerpts from these famous interviews in the booklets included with their releases of Luis Buñuel films. If I can trust my memory, I believe I had previously read the interviews pertaining to Belle de Jour, The Exterminating Angel, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and That Obscure Object of Desire -- all great films -- and these discussions between critics José de la Colina and Tomás Pérez Turrent and Luis Buñuel really fascinated me, making me laugh out loud at times and sometimes raising my awareness about certain techniques or images used in the films or challenging my initial interpretations. When this book first came to my awareness I immediately added it to my virtual to-read list, but I found that it had been out-of-print for some time and it proved very difficult to locate, aside from ordering it online for what I considered a hefty sum for a used book. Then on a voyage to a used bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles I found it at last(!) after previously having searched the film bio section and apparently glancing over it (or else someone else had planned on purchasing it, but then reconsidered and instead returned it to the shelf); and what a look of excitement was painted on my face, like a kid who sees Disneyland for the first time (sure to give any who saw my expression a good laugh). As I was already in the middle of two other books I placed this one on my desk, eager to crack it open as soon as I finished the books I had already started. In all, I found this book very interesting, but not quite as illuminating as I had hoped. Like many great artists, whether they be musicians, painters, writers or filmmakers, Luis Buñuel doesnt ever give away as much as we might like, though he says more about his films here than perhaps anywhere else (as information on his films and the making of them was very scant in his autobiography, My Last Sigh, just as was the case in similar works by other great filmmakers, such as Charlie Chaplin). And it seems likely that Don Luis is more guarded and less honest at times than one might hope (though not expect), sometimes contradicting himself and denying vigorously that he intended certain things to have any symbolism (just as Virginia Woolf has denied any symbolism in the image of the lighthouse in To the Lighthouse or as Ernest Hemingway did with The Old Man and the Sea: There isnt any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit). If these artists are honest in saying that certain images have no symbolic significance it might say something about the human need to create symbolic meaning, to attach more explanation to things that neednt be explained so thoroughly, or to add more depth to an otherwise simple story. Buñuel is critical of those who try to seek endlessly for symbolism where there is none and insists in several interviews that he was once called nonpsychoanalyzable by a psychotherapist. The work contains some interesting insights on Buñuels obsessions and recurring themes and ideas (human relationships, lamour fou, eyes, feet, etc.) and also provides some interesting discussion about his relationship with Dali and the Surrealists and his influences (mainly the Marquis de Sade, but also García Lorca, Fritz Lang, Marx, his Catholic upbringing). In the margins I made many notes where Buñuel bore similarities to Fellini -- the role of dreams in film (and in life) as an extension of reality and as adding a layer of depth, the realm of the imagination, his preoccupation with certain main ideas (suggesting that he may only have a few main ideas that he explores over and again in different ways), his criticisms of neorealism (though expressing admiration for Fellini and De Sica) -- and to others, such as Michael Powell (with his insistence that cinema is like a kind of voyeurism) and Ingmar Bergman. And there were many exclamation points and ha-has written in as well because, well, Buñuel has a very rich, if sometimes dry sense of humor (and is sometimes funny even when he might not have intended to be. My favorite was: Catherine Deneuve is not precisely my type of woman, but when she is crippled and made-up [in Tristana], I find her very attractive.). And the interviewers offer much humor as well: The best scenes in [Michelangelo] Antonionis La Notte are those when we escape from boredom thanks to [Jeanne Moreaus manner of] walking. And the greatest laughs come when the director and his interlocutors square off, them questioning illogical explanations that he insists are perfectly reasonable. Objects of Desire: Conversations with Luis Buñuel is an entertaining and illuminating read, especially for lovers of cinema and the work of Luis Buñuel in particular. As stated above, it is not the key to all of the mysteries in Buñuels films, but its the closest well ever get from a man who insisted prior to agreeing to these interviews, I have said everything I had to say long ago and I havent changed my mind. Well, people werent satisfied with what he had said long ago and so this work was born. At the time it was being put together Buñuel told the interviewers, If the book of interviews comes out well I wont have to talk anymore: if someone asks me for an interview Ill simply give them the book. It may not answer every question, but it is certainly a very nice portrait of a very complex artist.

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