The Artist’s Way: Luis Buñuel in real life (insert) and in character sketches
Producer Manuel Cristóbal says it was more economical and artistically appropriate to tell the story using 2D animation instead of CG.
playing, and thus could provide the proper regional dialect. (The director himself is briefly heard as Salvador Dalí.)
The film’s haunting musical score is the work of composer Arturo Cardelús, whose stated goal for one particular scene was to move the audience to tears. It is a crucial acting sequence in which Buñuel and his tiny film crew visit a crowded school in the Las Hurdes village (in real life, the hamlet’s main source of income came through a government subsidy for taking in orphans), and is swarmed by the children who beg for affection.
In the context of the story it is the moment Luis’s rebellious artistic intellect begins to succumb to human emotion. Cardelús also found another way to further stretch the film’s meager budget by contacting a friend at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where Cardelús is an Associate, and asking that a choral work of his be included in that semester’s curriculum. After months of rehearsing (for free), the students went to Abbey Road Studios and recorded the piece within an hour. “They were 19, 20, and they were all so excited,” Cardelús says. “It was a win-win.”
One controversial element of the film could not be ignored: the images of animal deaths, often at the hands of Buñuel himself, which are represented in both the live-action clips of Las Hurdes and in the animation. While difficult to watch, these sequences seek to offer insight into why the director did what he did. “The message we wanted to tell the audience is that this actually happened, it’s not something we invented,” Simó says. “I would like people to think about it, but we worry about animals, and maybe we should be more wor- ried about what’s happening with ourselves.”
While the film is slated for release in Europe in the spring of 2019, no concrete plans have been made for U.S. distribution. Salvador Simó, meanwhile, wants audiences to see the film as the story of an historic friendship presented through animation (and an ending title card explains that Ramón Acín was executed as an anarchist in 1939 by Spain’s new fascist government), and the personal turning point for a key 20th century cinema artist.
“Everything changed for him after Las Hurdes,” Simó says. “He found his own voice. All his later films were extremely human. We say that we made this film about Luis, not about Buñuel.”