February 22, 2012

No Eyeballs Were Harmed in Buñuel's 'Crusoe'

In fact, the eyeballs of yours truly were very grateful.

Luis Buñuel has always been one of my favorite directors, and I was very happy to see a movie of his that I hadn't seen, 1954's The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, on TV the other day. I was curious about his treatment of the classic Daniel Defoe tale, as the other Buñuel films I've enjoyed all have featured the director's famous surrealist visuals and anticlerical dialogue.

I wasn't too surprised to find that I enjoyed Crusoe just as much. The reason: Buñuel was a great director. And most great directors can work with a broad range of subjects.

Not that surrealism was entirely absent from the film. A bizarre dream sequence involving the the titular marooned character (played poignantly by Dan O'Herlihy) and some startling imagery--including a scene in which the famished Crusoe cracks open an egg to find a live bird inside--peppered the movie, which otherwise flowed much like a well-made Hollywood treatment. Buñuel has always been great at telling a story, a trait that I feel is often overlooked, and his adaptation is typically involving...even exciting and moving.

I'm now interested in seeing his version of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, a book I've always loved. It's another film of Buñuel's that I haven't yet seen; I somehow think I'm about to open a treasure chest like one of those found in Crusoe's ship.

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