Spanish film director and original member of the Surrealist movement, Luis Buñuel, directed this version of Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe‘ in 1954. It’s a very good and straightforward telling of the story with a totally convincing island locale. The Defoe novel is now more important reading than it’s ever been. That’s because it is the greatest story ever told about being alone with one’s self. All you have to do is live in Los Angeles for a while with your eyes open to understand how few people want to ever be alone with themselves. You see this problem with people very clearly when they break up with significant others and immediately slide into whatever relationship presents itself. It signifies a profound weakness of mind and character. Defoe wrote about the intricate workings of a mind alone with itself and the unexpected joys and truths one discovers in one’s self. So, read the book. It’s a tough book, full of very fine sentences and very subtle thought. Give it a try.
If you are so inclined, you can listen to the entire book right here because I sat down and read the whole thing into a microphone several years ago. But I suggest you listen now and then while making your way through the book on your own.
Luis Buñuel was the great Spanish film director who made ‘Un Chien Andalou’ and ‘L’Age d’Or,’ two of the original surrealist films. This documentary, directed by Robert Valey, was made in 1964. The director talks freely and with a certain charming guile about his influences, friends, paranoias, enjoyments and his impressions of various countries. He once smacked Salvadore Dali down on 5th Avenue in New York city!
I enjoy listening to people like him talk about their work because they talk about how they see things – how they interpret the world. Compare the way he talks in this film to what you normally see coming from people like Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese. Those people don’t seem real. They don’t seem to have any point of view. Notice how people in the film consistently associate Buñuel’s filmmaking with the work of painters. It is the continual grinding down of art into business that destroys real culture. One should immerse one’s self in better ideas and more subtle things if one wants to avoid the dullness that permeates most film work currently going on in the United States. I have found it to be a general rule that people with real talent who are artists answer questions in a slightly confusing manner. Clarity is another word for fake. Buñuel appears to me to fit this general principal.
Buñuel wrote a short and very beautiful autobiography called ‘My Last Sigh.’ I recommend it very highly if you want to know more about the mind behind Surrealist film.
And of course, here is the great Surrealist short film, ‘Un Chien Andalou,’ made by Buñuel in 1929.