The Exterminating Angel

(El Angel exterminador)
Mexico 1962. Dir: Luis Buñuel. 95 min. DCP

Luis Buñuel's savage black comedy is one of the surrealist master’s greatest works, and perhaps his ultimate insult to conventional bourgeois morality. It is also the source for British composer Thomas Adès’s eponymous and much-acclaimed new opera, which debuted at Salzburg in 2016 and was recently presented at The Met in New York. In Buñuel's brilliant film, a group of socialites attending an elegant dinner party find themselves mysteriously unable to leave their host’s drawing room at the conclusion of the evening. As the ordeal stretches into hours and then days, their civilized façades crumble under the pressures of confinement, hunger, and squalor, and they gradually revert to barbarism. Buñuel would make more subversive comic hay with the high-society dinner party in his 1972 Oscar winner The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. “Devastatingly funny” (Tom Milne, Time Out).


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REVIEWS

"Wicked, almost unclassifiable ... [A] spectacle of human folly for our shocked bemusement."

Slant | full review

"A macabre comedy, a mordant view of human nature that suggests we harbor savage instincts and unspeakable secrets."

Roger Ebert | full review