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A PROPOSITO DE BUNUEL (REGARDING LUIS BUNUEL) -- SCREENPLAY

by consejeria del Gobierno de Aragon, Con la ayuda del Ministerio de Cultura ICAA

A Proposito de Bunuel -- Screencap Gallery

Table of Contents:


[Carlos Fuentes, Writer and Friend] I learned the quality of silence with Bunuel, because we could sit for ten minutes without speaking, looking at each other or drinking, without a word.  That's the height of friendship.

[Claudio Isaac, Friend] He had that face ... that broken boxer's nose, that gaze of his that was asymmetrical and terrible, showing brutal concentration.  He loved to make jokes, but with a serious expression on his face.  That was disturbing.

[Michel Piccoli, Actor]  He showed us we didn't need to be afraid of existence, and the catastrophes of existence.  For him, those catastrophes were lies, political lies, fascism, Franco, and the Pope.

[Angela Molina, Actress] He had the art of provocation, but he was so lively about it.  That's what he wanted, to disturb people, make them question things and have fun at the same time.

[Jose Bello, Friend]  With Luis Bunuel, it's difficult to look for "the explanation," because most of the best things about him had no explanation.

[Jean Claude Carriere, Screenwriter] He used to say, "A day without laughter is a lost day.  I mean real laughter."

[Father Manuel Mindan, Priest and Friend] I'm about three years younger than Bunuel.  He was born in February, 1900, and I was born in December 1902.  But we were friends.  His father, as a young man, joined the army; he was a bugler in Cuba.  He was a soldier in Cuba, and worked in a hardware store.  The lady who owned it entrusted it to him, and when she died, she willed the business to him.  Afterwards, with the money he made in the store, he and two partners started a shipping company that was very profitable because it was wartime.  When the Spanish-American War was over, he went back to Spain, wanting to get married.  He married the daughter of the Calanda innkeeper, Maria Portoles Cerezuela.  She was 17 years old when she was married.  Don Leonardo was 45.  He sent her to school for six months so that she could polish her manners a bit, since she was a girl who had been used to serving people in the inn.  They were married in the church of "El Pilar" in Calanda in the "Milagro" chapel.  Then they went to Paris on their honeymoon.  She became pregnant in Paris, so the baby Luis really did come from Paris.

[Luis Bunuel] In the village where I was born on Feb. 22, 1900, the Middle Ages continued until the World War.  It was an isolated and fixed society where class differences were very clear.  Life unfolded monotonously, ordered and directed by the church bells.  The bells announced religious services, the events of daily lives, and the tolling for deaths.  It seemed nothing would change.  Gestures and desires were passed on from generation to generation.  Words of "progress" barely passed in the distance like clouds.  Death was always present and formed part of life.  Like faith.  We, deeply anchored in Roman Catholicism, never doubted any of its dogmas.  But our sincere faith could not calm our impatient, obsessive, and permanent sexual curiosity.  Instinct's hard battles against chastity, occurring only in our thoughts, overwhelmed us with guilt.  For years I lived with a sense of sin that could be delightful.  3 km. from town, my father built a house we called "The Tower."  The whole family went there every day in two carriages.  The whole band of kids would often meet hungry children in rags collecting manure.  If I'd been one of them, watering the earth with sweat, what would my memories of that time be like?

[Jose Bello, Friend] His father was the only one who talked at the table.  "Luis, go get that." [He] went to his father's strong-box and pulled out some sausages and a very sharp knife.  He gave it to his father, who'd unwrap it, serve himself a rather large piece, one much smaller for Luis, another even smaller for Leonardo, and a tiny one for Alfonso.  The women there said nothing.  They knew they had no right to eat that, none at all.  He used to tell us about that, boasting about his father, their manners, and their well-kept household. 

[Father Manuel Mindan, Priest and Friend] Luis went up to the nanny's room.  Since she took awhile to go up there, he pinched the baby to make her cry.  She started to cry, the nanny went up, and Luis hid under the bed.  She got ready to go to sleep, and when she lifted on leg to get into bed, he came out from under the bed and grabbed her other leg.  She let out a scream the whole household heard.  Everyone went up to see what had happened.

[Luis Bunuel] In 1908, while I was still a child, I discovered the cinema.  Back then it was just a carnival attraction, a simple technical discovery.  But it was the invasion of something totally new in our Medieval universe. 

[Father Manuel Mindan, Priest and Friend] He hung a sheet up between the bedroom door and the room where we were.  He'd use a magic lantern to project shadow on it.  then he'd get a friend and a chisel and hammer, and he'd hit the chisel behind his friend's head.  Then he took out things he'd prepared on the seat behind him.  He said, "There's a sponge, there's a rag, of course he can't learn anything!"  Then he pretended to sew him up after having healed him.

[Luis Bunuel] My father died in 1923.  That was a decisive moment for me.  A few days later, I put on his boots, opened his desk and began smoking his cigars.  I'd assumed my role as head of the family.

[Jose Bello, Friend] His mother saved that family.  She was the cheer, the lightheartedness, the joy of the family.  She was an extraordinary person.  Pure goodness Maria was.  I loved her like a mother, and she loved me, too. 

[Father Manuel Mindan, Priest and Friend] When his father was alive, he didn't go to Madrid to study, he went to Zaragoza and studied philosophy and literature.  He didn't get his degree.  His mother paid for his tuition. 

[Jose Bello, Friend] Dali's parents gave him 5 pesetas, like with Lorca and I, but Luis Bunuel always got ten or fifteen.  He constantly exploited his mother.  He was her boy, the eldest, and she had a weakness for him.

[Conchita Bunuel, Sister] When he was 17, he started seeing an older girl.  Someone told her father that our family was very well-off and that Luis had his degree.  The father decided to formalize things, and that Luis's parents had to ask for her hand.  Luis took advantage of his vacations and said he'd ask his parents, but what he did was to write a letter pretending he was a friend saying, "Luis died in an accident, uttering your daughter's name."  Three months later, her father ran into him in Madrid and chased him with an umbrella.

[Jose Bello, Friend] One thing Bunuel did was to start studying science.  He only started, but that's behind the insect thing.  He was interested in studying insects.  He started three different majors:  agricultural engineering, natural science, and philosophy and literature. 

[Luis Bunuel] My memories from that time are so rich.  I know if I hadn't been at the "Residencia," my life would have been different. 

[Jose Bello, Friend] I was the first at the "Residencia," then Bunuel arrived a few years later.  Then Lorca came, and Dali was the last.  It was just a coincidence that we met and liked each other, that we had fun, that we enjoyed jokes.

[Roman Gubern, Writer] I don't know, the "Residencia" was an epicenter.  There was this group ... Jose Bello, essential.  He didn't write or paint, but he held them together. 

[Luis Bunuel] An unpredictable, good fellow, Aragonese from Huesca, medical student who passed no exams, neither painter nor poet, Jose Bello was just our bosom friend.

[Jose Bello, Friend] It would have been strange not to have known each other.  It would have been strange not to have had those people around each other. 

[Luis Bunuel] With Lorca, I discovered poetry.  Spanish poetry, which he knew so well.  He didn't believe in God, but he conserved the artistic sense of religion.

[Jose Luis Barros, Doctor and Friend] They created the "Order of Toledo," which meant they came here, usually on Saturday, and ate and drank according to Luis. 

[Luis Bunuel] To be a "Knight," you had to blindly love Toledo, get drunk at least one night and wander through its streets.  Those who wanted to go to bed early could only be "Squires."  Let's not even talk about "Guests" and "Guests of Guests."

[Jose Bello, Friend] We really liked Toledo, and we went there on weekends.  We caught the afternoon train, third class, of course.  We didn't have dinner, we just drank, going from one tavern to another, drinking very cheap wine.  We slept at the "Posado de la Sangre."  A bed there cost no more than three reales, with sheets whose cleanliness was rather doubtful.  The next morning we met in Zocodover Square.  I remember something about that.  We would have drunk a bit the night before, we hadn't slept much, and Bunuel discovered that a shoeshine could be very refreshing.  It's true.  One feels very rested after a shoeshine.

[Jose Luis Barros, Doctor and Friend] Bunuel always liked to dress up in costumes, even just a sheet on the city walls, scaring people.  He wouldn't say a word, just pass by them. 

[Jose Bello, Friend] At lunchtime we would go eat at the "Venta de Aires," outside the Toledo city walls.  Very cheap, very modest.  It was a village inn.  We drank wine from Yepes there, and then we went to see the tomb of Cardinal Tavera, that Bunuel really liked. 

[Luis Bunuel] Those years of formation and encounters are hard to explain.  Our talks, our work, our walks, our drunken nights, the Madrid brothels ... the best in the world.  Very rarely, because we didn't have any money. 

[Jose Bello, Friend] Very rarely, and only Luis and I went.  Lorca, of course, wasn't interested, and Dali wasn't interested at all because he was asexual.  Completely.  Dali was like this table.

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