Sunday, November 22, 2009


Death in the Garden (Microcinema)
One of Luis Buñuel’s least-known efforts from his many years spent making films in Mexico doesn’t have the pedigree of classics Los Olvidados, Nazarin or The Exterminating Angel, but for those interested in Buñuel’s career arc, enough of his sardonic personality peeks through to help this 1956 melodrama overcome a lackluster script. In an unnamed South American country, a group of people flees a budding revolution into the jungle, only to fall prey to the inevitable (and fatal) back-stabbing and in-fighting. Shot in beautiful Technicolor—which, in this newly restored release, looks absolutely pristine—Death in the Garden is Buñuel-lite, with little of the subversiveness marking his best films from L’Age d’Or to Simon of the Desert.

The presence of terrific French actors like Michel Piccoli (who would go on to star in several more Buñuel films) and Simone Signoret is another plus. Extras-wise, there’s a nice assortment: new interviews with Piccoli and with Buñuel scholar Victor Fuentes and an audio commentary by another Buñuel expert, Ernesto R. Acevedo-Munoz, give necessary context for a forgotten work by an audacious filmmaking master.
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