*. People still wonder if it’s too much. I ask: Is it enough? I’m not referring to the running time (around 16 minutes), but the concept itself. Are you satisfied with a parade of strange and unrelated images?
*. Put another way: do you return to this movie? Is there any point in watching it twice? If none of it has any meaning, and Buñuel and Dali were emphatic that none of it did, then once you’ve “seen” it once, is that all there is to see?
*. Are these fair questions? I don’t know.
*. David Thomson has a complicated response to this film, seeing it as a prime “indicator that the history of movie is the history of whether or not we can come to terms with sexual existence.” That is, will sex or cruelty triumph? Because (I think this is what he means) if we can’t come to terms with sexual existence then we’re going to cut the ones we love into tiny pieces.
*. Buñuel throws both sex and cruelty up there on the screen, but is it multiple choice? As I see it, surrealism’s emphasis on dreams and the subconscious pretty much loads the deck for sex and violence, the rulers of our primordial, reptile brains. Dig down deep enough and that’s what you’ll find.
*. But is that enough? I mean, Hostel works on the same level. Aren’t we just listening to someone tell us about one of their bad dreams? And how interesting is that?
*. It’s not a movie I return to very often. The point was to shock and unsettle us, and it still has that power. But it doesn’t seem to represent anything aside from the primitive poetry of raw images, the rhyming of the senses. A cloud cutting across the moon is like a razor blade slicing an eyeball. Feeling a woman’s breasts is like feeling her ass. Musical instruments in a silent film are just objects to be lugged or kicked about.
*. For Dali this was enough. Buñuel wanted something more. This may have been the reason behind their falling out over L’Age d’Or. In the event, Buñuel would go on but for Dali this was pretty much the end.