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The Phantom of Liberty

February 19, 2009

Chickens, Monks, Ostriches, Oh My!  A Review of The Phantom of Libertyby Luis Bunuel

My husband, the consummate film snob and a writer, is writing something on Luis Bunuel, the famous (?) director who, according to my husband (let’s call him “Claude”) has a film career spanning six decades.

How did this man ever get a movie made?  And what could Claude possibly write that would make any sense (to normal people who speak normal English)?  I know if I were writing it, I’d probably say, “Well, this director made a movie with little stories about a number of people, some connected, some are not, and there’s chickens in a dream, monks playing poker and betting their sacred medals, and an ostrich at the end.”  Just about sums up “The Phantom of Liberty.”

Oh, there’s the gratuitous T&A, except the A belongs to a him instead of a her.  And that’s one of the scenes with the monks! I’m sure Claude’s mother would NOT approve.  If you know Claude and you know his mother, you know what I mean.  And you know who you are.  Nothing in this movie makes  bit of sense.  A man goes to a doctor.  The doctor tells him he is fine, nothing to worry about, and then tells him that he must operate tomorrow for he has advanced liver cancer.  A little girl is reported to be lost from her school, so her parents rush to the school and she’s right there.  But apparently no one takes notice and they even take the child to the police station so she can be identified so the police can go find her.  Wha-wha-what???   Another scene involves a sniper who shoots and kills numerous people, is tried in court, sentenced to death, and then set free only to be begged for his autograph.
The police commissioner goes to a bar for a regular game of dominos and sees a woman who looks like his dead sister.  He reminisces with the woman about the last time he was with his sister, where she is playing the piano in the nude.  He receives a phone call at the bar from the dead sister telling him to come to her crypt that night.   He’s arrested and brought in to find another police commissioner in charge, and then after he’s been jailed for a bit, he and the other police commissioner share a drink.  Then they run outside to the zoo, some shots are fired and you see an ostrich up close.  Wow.  I had chills.  Where was the Academy when this came out?  Of course, Claude is laughing and saying “Did you see that? Oh wow, what a great movie, it references so much!”  I’m thinking, what the hell does it reference?  Chickens?  (that was in one of the character’s dreams.)  Ostriches?  Napoleon?  Port? Incest with your aunt? Fruit and milk? Foxes being hunted by tanks?   I’m so sick of symmetry.

“The Phantom of Liberty” should have been called “The Phantom of Anything That Makes Any Sense” because there’s not a ghost of a chance that you’ll get any of it.  I didn’t.  But I loved it. It was very funny.  And the shot of the ostrich was pretty amazing.  4 stars.

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One comment

  1. You are so smart! Good stuff. I can’t say I read all of it but I enjoyed what I did read!
    Pete



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