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LUIS BUNUEL'S DEATH IN THE GARDEN (Bilingual)


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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
One of the ten greatest films ever made; WHERE'S THE dvD? Jan. 21 2001
By TUCO H. - Published on Amazon.com
I love most of Bunuel's films but "Death In the Garden" is definitely my absolute favorite, ahead of "Los Olvidados," and even "Viridiana." This film is as close to perfection as you can get, even though some critics like to call it a 'flawed' film. The 'flaws' in this film are further aspects of its pefection, if you ask me. It has its lunatic elements and a few supernatural angles like all Bunuel films, but it also showcases the 'romantic' side of the man too often labeled a pessimist. The totally 'amoral' yet not unadmirable Georges Marchal character "Shark" is the closest thing to an Yves Montand/Wages-of-Fear type 'hero' Bunuel ever got. What can I tell you? SEE THIS FILM, IT'S A MASTERPIECE. On the surface "Death in the GArden" is a "Wages of Fear" like adventure story (Charles Vanel from Clouzot's masterpiece is one of the main characters) where a bunch of people are put under pressure and forced to work together and survive. The people putting the pressure on are the military 'fascists' not the industrialist-fascists of "Wages of Fear." The story happens in a South American state, where a bunch of Diamond miners are being chased out by the corrupt military government. When a small-scale civil war breaks out, the leaders of the rebels become hunted men, and they have to escape by boat, ending up in a rain-soaked amazon jungle trying to get to Brazil. The characters have to cooperate and survive under an increasingly hopeless situation and reveal fascinating aspects of themselves in the process. There are no moral black and whites, of course, no steretypes either, but only a dynamically evolving morality shaded in different grays leaning toward the black here, toward the white there. You come to have a deep level of sympathy with almost every main character in the film, even Simone Signoret's avaricious Madame, but only after examining them as totally flawed human beings capable of many bizzare deeds, some admirable, others despicable, etc. The film has everything that makes greatness, layers and more layers: deep characters, adventure, action, pessimism, romanticism, eroticism, hilariously absurd farcical scenes, identification with religion while remaining anticlerical, a complete lack of sentimentality, fantastic color cinematography (very lush and colorful, almost Renoir-like, and unlike most of Bunuel's other color films), unbelievably great acting by Georeges Marchal, Simone Signoret, Charles Vanel, and a young Michel Piccoli, it even has a beautiful young deaf girl whose long hair gets stuck in a tree! What more could you want? Maltin must be out of his mind to give this film only 3 stars!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
not a cheat Jan. 13 2010
By M. Toscano - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Just to correct another reviewer's error, this DVD is not a cheat, it's perfectly good. The film was shot in 1.37, not 1.66, and is presented properly.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A great Bunuel movie April 22 2014
By LostinGermany - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Several people in a town, somewhere in Latin America. A revolution is going on. Everybody wants to
survive. Hate, envy and defame comes to town. A group of several people try to escape, with a boat
on the river...but hate, envy and madness is also on the boat. Intense drama with outstanding actors/
actresses. Signoret, Piccoli and Vanel are brilliant. A must see.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Lesser Bunuel work in a very nice package July 15 2012
By Joe Gola - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Death in the Garden is an adventure story of sorts, all centered around a group of French expatriates in a small town in an unnamed South American country; there is a priest, a prostitute, an aging prospector, his deaf-mute daughter, and a handsome but antisocial adventurer who may or may not have robbed a bank a couple towns over. Their fates become entwined when the local diamond miners revolt against the governmental authorities, and for different reasons they must all escape the town together when the political situation becomes too volatile.

Overall the film is fairly entertaining and well-made, though in terms of Buñuel's oeuvre it would probably only be considered a minor work. The project was not one of the director's own devising but rather that of a French producer who hoped to recreate the success of 1953's Wages of Fear. For his part, Buñuel was likely hoping the film would serve as a stepping stone towards finding steady work in Europe. A viewer might even forget that Buñuel was involved at all during the somewhat unfocused first half, aside from occasional flashes of dark humor. The second half of the film, however, is extremely memorable and bears all the hallmarks of Buñuel's unique take on the cruelties and contradictions of man. The unlikely band of adventurers find themselves traveling through the jungle to the Brazilian border, and in this surreal wilderness the bonds of social convention begin to break apart and new personalities emerge.

The Transflux/Microcinema DVD package is quite nice; there are interesting interviews with actor Michel Piccoli and film scholar Victor Fuentes, an informative running commentary, and a sixteen-page booklet with photographs and essays. The quality of the image is very good considering its age, though the DVD's aspect ratio is not 1.66 as the box describes but rather 1.37 (which was probably the original aspect ratio of the movie).

As a fan of Buñuel I was glad to have picked it up, and I think others will find the film enjoyable as well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A jungle adventure ..... Bunuel style May 24 2012
By The CinemaScope Cat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In an unidentified South American country, the corrupt government confiscates all diamond mines from private ownership which causes a revolution. A small band of fugitives: an adventurer (Georges Marchal), a prostitute (Simone Signoret), a priest (Michel Piccoli), a miner (Charles Vanel) and his deaf mute daughter (Michele Girardon) escape down the river and into the jungle where they struggle to survive. One of the least seen and discussed of Luis Bunuel's films, it's easy to see why. Not that it's bad, quite the contrary, it's very good but it doesn't fit easily into the Bunuel canon. On the surface, it's a colorful (shot in Eastman color) jungle adventure seemingly not all that different from its Hollywood brethren. Quite different from the irreverently playful Bunuel that would dominate the 1960s art houses. But it's characters are all highly flawed, some physically and some morally and some psychologically. Bunuel's bleak ending and possible symbolism (I'm not sure but Piccoli's priest seems to be some kind of Christ figure) separate it from the glossy jungle adventures Hollywood was grinding out in the 1950s. A warning: there's actual animal cruelty (not simulated) in the film so be prepared.

The DVD courtesy of Transflux is a handsome, sharp and colorful transfer in its 1.33 aspect ratio.


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