Bu˝uel was born in Span in 1900. In studied first with Jesuits
before enrolling in the University of Madrid, majoring in science.
At the University he met Salvador Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca.
Inspired by Fritz Lang's film, Destiny , Bu˝uel went to Paris
to study film during the 1920's amidst a flourish of avant-garde
experimentation. There he became an assistant to the experimental
filmmaker Jean Epstein, and in 1928 collaborated with some friends
including Salvador Dali on Un Chien andalou , which became a
surrealist classic. It provoked a scandal, but Bu˝uel went on
to film L'Age d'Or in 1930, creating another scandal. L'Age
d'Or would also be the last time Salvador Dali would collaborate
with Bu˝uel as he fought with Bu˝uel over the film's anti-Catholicism.
After L'Age d'Or , Bu˝uel further pursued his interests in anti-clericalism
when he turned his attentions to making a documentary called
Land Without Bread . (1932), studying the contrast between the
poverty, disease, and death of the Spanish people and the lush,
jewel-filled world of the Spanish Catholic Church. Bu˝uel went
on to work for the foreign branches of major Hollywood studios,
dubbing for Paramount in Paris and supervising co-productions
for Warner Brothers in Spain. He produced several more Spanish
pictures before leaving Spain for the United States during the
Spanish Civil War.
in the United States, he was director of documentaries at the
Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also found himself working
for major Hollywood studios again as well as the U. S. government,
supervising Spanish-language versions of films for MGM, making
documentaries for the U. S. Army, and dubbing for Warner Brothers.
Bu˝uel began to direct films again after a creative hiatus of
almost 15 years when he went to Mexico.
association with producer Oscar Dancigers, Bu˝uel made a series
of films, including Los olvidados (1950), El (1952), and Criminal
Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955). The best of these films
brought Bu˝uel once more to international acclaim. It was with
his Mexican films that Bu˝uel began to fully develop his unique
mix of surrealist humor and social melancholy, combining a documentary
sense with surrealist qualities into a loose, discontinuous
form of narrative that his films would continue to follow as
his career would progress. With his Mexican films, he paid especially
close attention to the details of average Mexican life. Bu˝uel
would continue to make films in Mexico, most notably Nazarin
(1958), even after leaving the continent.
returned to France in 1955 to begin three co-productions that
placed him in the center of cinematic art. His first opportunity
to work and live in Spain came when he made Viridiana in 1961.
Though his script was initially approved, the film was banned
upon release due to its anticlerical images, notably Bu˝uel's
famous parodical shot of Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, The Last
Supper . Nevertheless the film achieved international recognition.
Controversy and problems with either distribution or censorship
continued to appear throughout his career, as in his French
film, Belle de Jour (1967), which would later go out of distribution
for many years until Martin Scorsese rereleased it in 1996.
Despite the complications Bu˝uel continued to be one of the
most creative and productive of all film directors.