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L'Age d'Or
     

L'Age d'Or

Director: Luis Buñuel

Cast: Gaston Modot, Lya Lys, Max Ernst

 

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Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali's second and final film collaboration comes to DVD in a respectable presentation from Kino Video. L'Age d'Or has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and while the print used for the transfer isn't quite pristine, it looks better than the copies which have been traveling on the archival

Overview

Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali's second and final film collaboration comes to DVD in a respectable presentation from Kino Video. L'Age d'Or has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and while the print used for the transfer isn't quite pristine, it looks better than the copies which have been traveling on the archival circuits for years. The film is a part talkie; the dialogue in the sound sequences is in French, with burned-in English subtitles that also appear on the film's French-language title cards (and could stand to be a bit more readable, though they're not difficult to decipher in the dialogue sequences). The sound has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, with no audio options. As a bonus, this edition also includes a small gallery of still photos and a commentary track from author Robert Short; while the commentary is extremely intermittent, at least he covers the film's infamous history with accuracy and concision. If not perfect, this DVD of L'Age d'Or is certainly an improvement over the previous VHS edition, and is well worth a look for enthusiasts of the great surrealists or anyone interested in Buñuel's early work.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - David Lewis
L'Âge d'Or was director Luis Buñuel's first feature, and was produced by the Vicomte Charles de Noailles, wealthy friend to the surrealist group. It was intended as a satire on the European bourgeoisie, and while de Noailles could have easily included himself among their number, he secretly detested them. In a sense, L'Âge d'Or is as much de Noailles' statement as it is Buñuel's. The satire is so pointed that it borders on outright comedy, and in 1933 de Noailles and Buñuel did re-edit the film down into a two-reel comedy entitled In the Icy Wastes of Dialectical Materialism, which was distributed to left-wing theaters in Eastern Europe and Russia. Sadly, this short version has not survived. Anti-Semitic right-wingers staged a riot at the Paris premiere of L'Âge d'Or, thinking Buñuel was Jewish. While their own organization, the League of Patriots, condemned the riot, the action did open a dialogue among French conservatives that L'Âge d'Or was too anti-clerical, and the paper Le Figaro began to pressure the censorship board to withdraw the film's certificate. It did so on December 1, 1930. Only three prints of the film were struck initially, and two of these were seized by authorities and destroyed. The Vicomte de Noailles hid the negatives of L'Âge d'Or in a Paris bookshop of which he was part-owner. In 1933, a few more prints were struck, and one of these was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that same year. Buñuel claimed the notoriety of L'Âge d'Or made it difficult for him to work in the 1930s and '40s. It certainly cost Buñuel his job as a director of Spanish-language documentaries at the Museum of Modern Art in 1945, as Cardinal Spelman of New York branded Buñuel as an "antichrist" and put pressure on MOMA to fire him. Although Salvador Dali is credited as co-scenarist of L'Âge d'Or, he had practically nothing to do with the film's creation and wasn't present for the shooting. Nonetheless, after the cause célèbre surrounding the film got underway, Dali traveled to Rome in order to beg forgiveness from the pope himself. When de Noailles died during the Second World War, L'Âge d'Or was "orphaned" and could only be obtained through MOMA or the Cinemathèque Française. In the years after 1933, both institutions would show their prints once in awhile, and it was seen at the New York Film Festival in the 1960s. Ultimately, it wasn't censorship that kept L'Âge d'Or out of circulation so much as a lack of prints and proper distribution, which was not obtained until 1979. By that time, the Paris ban was long null and void. Now that it has been generally available for awhile, it is easy to see that L'Âge d'Or is technically the most accomplished of the early surrealist films. It has nothing of the brutish intensity of Un Chien Andalou, nor the strange, otherworldliness of Le Sang d'un Poète. But it is by far the most successful of the de Noailles films in terms of progressing from scene to scene in an illogical/logical surrealist dream state, and the impact of the satire can be felt in comedies made 40 to 50 years down the line, particularly in the work of Monty Python's Flying Circus. While the beginning and end sequences of L'Âge d'Or may feel slow, the main part of the film has lost little of its power, and is still highly amusing and mildly shocking, even today.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/23/2004
UPC:
0738329038823
Original Release:
1930
Rating:
NR
Source:
Kino Video
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:03:00
Sales rank:
47,988

Special Features

Audio commentary by Robert Short, author of "The Age of Gold: Surrealist Cinema"; Stills gallery; Luis Buñuel: A Complete Filmography

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. The Scorpion [3:24]
2. A Sighting [5:06]
3. Finished [3:21]
4. Lusty Men [6:00]
5. When in Rome [3:30]
6. Man Escaped [8:47]
7. The Party [5:43]
8. Faux Pas [4:08]
9. Agony & Ecstasy [6:02]
10. Phone Call [6:26]
11. Fickleness [5:32]
12. Orgy [4:31]

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