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.

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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.”

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