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Bunuel Hardcover – April, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Stanley Kubrick's biographer turns here to another secretive, obsessive film director: Luis Buñuel (1900-83), creator of such bourgeois-baiting masterpieces as An Andalusian Dog, Viridiana, and Belle de Jour. Making good use of family documents and with the cooperation of Buñuel's son, John Baxter explores the autobiographical roots of the perverse eroticism and lucid, almost cruelly detached view of the human comedy that distinguished the Spanish-born director's artistic vision. But the biography is not all surrealism and cynicism: lots of good anecdotes culled from interviews put flesh and blood on Buñuel's austere public persona.

From Publishers Weekly

This vibrant, anecdote-packed biography of Spanish film director Luis Bu?uel (1900-1983) provides an intimate portrait of a secretive man. Baxter (Stanley Kubrick) zeroes in on the obsessions that drove the filmmaker and nurtured his films: fetishism, an anarchist-tinged faith in communism, hatred of Franco's regime and a near-pathological hostility to the Catholic Church, in which he was raised. Bu?uel emerges as a jealous man of rigid habits, a cross-dresser beset by fear of women, an audacious artist plagued by Meniere's syndrome, an inner ear disorder that destroyed his hearing later in life. Drawing on family papers, interviews with Bu?uel's son and former associates, and archival materials, Baxter plunges readers into Bu?uel's varied milieu, from Madrid to surrealist circles in mid-1920s Paris, to 1940s New York and Hollywood, to the Spanish emigre community in Mexico, where the filmmaker took refuge in 1945, under attack in his native Spain for his left-wing politics. Probing the chemistry among scriptwriters, producers and Bu?uel's personal circumstances, Baxter taps into the creative dynamo that gave us movies like Viridiana, Belle de Jour and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub; Reprint edition (April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078670506X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786705061
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,497,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Baxter was born in Sydney, Australia, but raised in a small country town called Junee. With little else to do, he went to the movies three times a week for most of his adolescence, which provided an instant education in Hollywood movies with which he was often able to embarrass film celebrities ("You SAW that thing?")
His second interest, however, was science fiction, which he began writing in his late teens. He sold stories to the same British and American magazines as J.G. Ballard and Thomas M. Disch, and in 1966 his first sf novel, THE GOD KILLERS, was published in both the US and Britain. He also edited the first-ever anthologies of Australian science fiction, and wrote the first history of the Australian cinema.
In 1969, he came to Europe, settled in London, and began writing books on the cinema, including a biography of the director Ken Russell, and studies of John Ford, Josef von Sternberg and the gangster and science fiction film genres, and working as an arts journalist for various magazines, and for BBC radio. He also served on the juries of European film festivals.
In 1974 he was invited to become visiting professor at Hollins College in Virginia, USA, where he remained for two years. While in America, he collaborated with Thomas Atkins on THE FIRE CAME BY; THE GREAT SIBERIAN EXPLOSION OF 1908,and wrote a study of director King Vidor, as well as completing two novels, THE HERMES FALL and BIDDING.
Returning to London, he published the technological thriller THE BLACK YACHT. In 1979 he moved to Ireland, and the following year returned to Australia, where he co-scripted the 1988 science fiction film THE TIME GUARDIAN, starring Carrie Fisher and Dean Stockwell. He also wrote and presented three TV series on the cinema, and produced and presented the ABC radio programme BOOKS AND WRITING.
In 1989 he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a screenwriter and film journalist. The following year, he met his present wife, Marie-Dominique Montel, and re-located in Paris.
After moving to France, John published biographies of Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas and Robert De Niro, as well as five books of autobiography, A POUND OF PAPER: CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK ADDICT, dealing with his fascination for collecting books, WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS: SEX AND LOVE IN THE CITY OF LIGHT, of which the SUNDAY TIMES of London wrote "it towers above most recent memoirs of life abroad," IMMOVEABLE FEAST: A PARIS CHRISTMAS, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WALK IN THE WORLD: A PEDESTRIAN IN PARIS, and THE PERFECT MEAL. IN SEARCH OF THE LOST TASTES OF FRANCE.
John has co-directed the annual Paris Writers Workshop and is a frequent lecturer and public speaker. His hobbies are cooking and book collecting. He has a major collection of modern first editions. When not writing, he can be found prowling the bouquinistes along the Seine or cruising the Internet in search of new acquisitions.


Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Oslo Jargo/Bartok Kinski on December 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
I picked this up for a few dollars at the bookstore and was invigorated to begin reading it but it turns out that it was written by a dilettante with too much time on his hands. It starts off as a vapid pseudo-bio but the author never real gives us any authentic substance in the 300+ pages. He throws out names as if we are supposed to know defunct abstractions and pretentious writers and he skips the years 1932-1945 for some reason. About half way through the read he really let me down because he goes on to say one of the most incongruous and nonsensical things I have ever heard of, that Franco of Spain "was not really a fascist". Obviously the guy has no understanding of precepts relating to Spain or Europe and the ending is a complete waste, considering he devoted one page to Bunuel's death.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blake on April 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Bunuel" by John Baxter has received some bad press from some of the reviewers here, but this is not a bad book at all. It is probably the second best biographical book about Luis Bunuel right after, of course, "My Last Sigh." Bunuel remains one of the giants of the cinema, a director who's films remain timeless and evocative, seductive and visceral, and sometimes funny. Baxter is not a bad author and elevates his subject to some great intellectual levels, exploring the depth of Bunuel's work and the philosophies, desires, madness and obsessions that spin madly at the center of this man's story. And yet, Baxter reveals that Bunuel was not some lunatic with a camera, he had surprisingly compassionate, funny human aspects, which is the case with most geniuses. Bunuel's life here plays like a great novel, filled with interesting characters from Bunuel's life like the painter Salvador Dali and the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. There is interesting information here, sometimes voyeuristic when we learn Lorca apparently tried to seduce Dali. The book is also a good examination of the films, because to understand Bunuel's mind, one must look at his masterpieces. There are fascinating moments when the book goes into the Surrealist movement and Bunuel's first two surreal films made with Dali, "Un Chien Andalou" (with the immortal image of a razor slicing across a woman's eye-ball) and "L'Age d'Or" (which has touches of De Sade). We follow Bunuel on his exile to Mexico where he makes the classic "Los Olvidados" which left an impact in many directors including, we learn here, Roman Polanski. Bunuel's work is a rich collage of visceral, seductive emotions and images as seen in works like "Viridiana" and "Belle De Jour" (the most famous erotic film ever) and the book makes good use of exploring all of the art.Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on June 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
First the good news. There are many interesting anecdotes related to the life of Luis Bunuel in this book. The common denominator throughout the book, mingled between ancedotes, is a portrait of man who was obsessive , compassionate, bizarre to the point of ecentric but driven to achieve. Now the bad news, the anecdotes bog down the biography and muddle the facts concerning this most interesting film maker. It is interesting on one level, learning the various pecularities of this man, his associations etc. but somewhere in the reading one asks oneself who am I really reading about in this book? Maybe the problem in trying to write about a complex man, who like many of us takes contradictory turns in a lifetime of experiences , it eventually becomes confusing to the point where one asks , is this the same guy I was reading about earlier? Is it an enjoyable read? I would have to say yes. Is it complete, a definitive statement about one of the giants of Spanish language cinema? Hardly , but if you thirst for knowledge it will quench your thirst much like lemonade, only temporarily. In the end you will come away slightly frustrated and want to know more. The problem is that book has not been written yet. John Baxter, try has he did by researching interviews, speaking with family , friends and colloboraters creates a book that like Bunuel is all over the map, which results in an unsettling feeling overall. I for one did like the book and read it as a "second " book, a light read that was enjoyable a chapter or two at a time. It did end rather abruptly but intrigued me enough to "save" the last chapter for a few days before I finished the book. I also liked the photogrphs but wish there were more. All the peripheral information aside it is nonetheless an interesting read, a springboard if you will for a better understanding of some of the films he made.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bartok Kinski on January 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
I picked this up for a few dollars at the bookstore and was invigorated to begin reading it but it turns out that it was written by a dilettante with too much time on his hands. It starts off as a vapid pseudo-bio but the author never real gives us any authentic substance in the 300+ pages. He throws out names as if we are supposed to know defunct abstractions and pretentious writers and he skips the years 1932-1945 for some reason.

About half way through the read he really let me down because he goes on to say one of the most incongruous and nonsensical things I have ever heard of, that Franco of Spain "was not really a fascist". Obviously the guy has no understanding of precepts relating to Spain or Europe and the ending is a complete waste, considering he devoted one page to Bunuel's death.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again