“Golden Age” is stylistically innovative and semantically sharp as only an exceptional film made today can be. We see on the screen the human thinking in motion that critically reviews our civilization with wit and from an independent spiritual position. We could be astonished by the director’s intellectual exuberance if we didn’t remember whom we are dealing with here – a person who made dozens of masterpieces which became visual textbooks for those who throughout the last several decades have studied film-directing.

The “Golden Age” is a surrealistic parable about the birth, development and decline of a civilization based on religious ideology. Bunuel uses Christianity as a particular case for his analysis. Among the specific features of this kind of a civilization, Bunuel describes the following ones: the prevailing role of the psychological function of believing over analytical thinking; messianic complex – expansionist/globalist tendencies and belligerent self-confidence necessary for attacking and conquering other people/countries; the anti-sexual/anti-body prejudices; the propensity to dominate over and control human love (overt and covert misogyny and aggressively disciplinary posture toward children); obsession with money and power; and megalomaniacal coloration of emotional life.

Operating within a wide scope of historical and pre-historical realities Bunuel previewing human civilization as he and only he sees it with a scorpionological introduction, and continuing by analyzing the disturbed psyches of a people who perceive the world, feel and act in psychopathic ways that are encouraged, reinforced and perpetuated by cultural values and norms of behavior which are considered normal inside our civilization.

As an artist Bunuel has guts not to hide his creative subjectivity behind a superficial plausibility of “realistic” narratives. For him meaning expressed through form is more important than cheap success achieved by imitating the surface of reality with which the viewers like to identify. The film resurrects the belief that director’s subjective truth (his unique angle of perceiving not only the reality but its meaning) can have stronger appeal than commercial seduction of the public.

Bunuel at a young age
Bunuel at a young age

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Bunuel, sitting (in the center), with the crew of “L’age D’or”

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The crowd led by the representatives of the decision-making elite (at the center the administrative leader – probably, the future mayor, in between representative of business interests [to the right] and the military chief) have arrived for the ceremony of designating the place for future Rome. Don’t miss the nuns (right behind the future fathers of Rome) – there are no bishops without nuns, like there are no popes without saints.

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Man and woman (the hero and heroine of the film) are concentrating on sinful acts, at the beginning of times amidst the cloaca of hell (not far from the place where Rome will be soon solemnly erected).

Posted Oct 24 2012 –   Luis Bunuel’s “The Golden Age”/”L’Age d’Or” (1930) – Absurdist Cinematic Sketch on Immorality and Stupidity of So Called Civilized Life by Acting-Out Politics