NYFF Spotlight: The Exterminating Angel
Posted by Fabian Baez on 9.19.2011
Why you should see it:
Luis Buñuel wrote and directed this 1962 classic, set in Mexico and starring the popular Mexican actress Silvia Pinal. The Exterminating Angel is unique as it offers characters taking actions which are never explained. You know something is off when service staff for an upscale dinner party decide to abandon their duties without telling anyone. They rush out as if to say: “I do not want to be here tonight.” Later, we see a group of apparently well-to-do folks who decide not to leave after their meal. Maybe they were too lazy, maybe they couldn't be bothered. In any case, we witness these guests slowly descend into inexplicable savagery—or is it inexplicable? Selected as the 16th best Mexican film by the nation’s film critics and among the best 1000 films by The New York Times.
The Exterminating Angel was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival and won the 1963 Bodil Award for Best Non-European Film.
About the director:
Luis Buñuel was a revered international filmmaker known for his surrealist imagery, unique sense of humor and examination of class, sex and religion, among other themes. His economical approach to filmmaking and minimal methods of working with actors were later appreciated by many collaborators. Although he never spoke of or promoted his work, he left a huge impression on world cinema. Other notable films include: Un Chien Andalou (written with Salvador Dalí), Simon of the Desert, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, That Obscure Object of Desire.
What the critics said:
Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times (1997): “A macabre comedy, a mordant view of human nature that suggests we harbor savage instincts and unspeakable secrets.”
Ed Gonzalez for Slant Magazine (2003): “If not necessarily Buñuel's greatest film, this unclassifiable creation must count as one of the most twisted stunts ever mounted for the screen.”
What the NYFF programmers say:
"The New York Film Festival will have its 50th anniversary in 2012, so we are celebrating that auspicious achievement by showing a film from the preceding festivals each week from the time of this year’s NYFF all the way up to next year’s festival. We will begin by showing The Exterminating Angel by Luis Buñuel, the Opening Night of the first NYFF back in 1963. From there, we will show a film from the 2nd NYFF, and so on and so forth all the way until the 50th NYFF next year. An exciting beginning of a year-long tribute to the festival." —Richard Peña, Program Director