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Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema


Chapter 1

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In a 1959 interview with Jean de Baroncelli, the great Surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel famously declared, “I’m an atheist still, thank God” (qtd. in Kyrou 120). In fact, as anyone who has seen Buñuel’s films can attest, he is more than simply an atheist; he is also an antitheist. That is, not only does he lack faith in God, he actively opposes such faith, frequently using scathing satire and blasphemy to challenge religious hegemony. Still, in spite of Buñuel’s anticlericalism and atheism, it would be difficult to find a director more obsessed with God. Religious topoi are ubiquitous in Buñuel’s filmography, and this includes a particularly prevalent (albeit undertheorized) topos of sacrifice. I want to argue that Buñuel’s sacrificial economy reveals a great deal about his complex relationship to religion. I also want to suggest that Buñuel’s appropriation of this religious theme is philosophically rich, anticipating Jacques Derrida’s theorizations of sacrifice in The Gift of Death (Donner la mort).


This book chapter is published as Remes, J., The Sacrificial Economy of Luis Bunuel in Faith and spirituality in masters of world cinema Volume II / edited by Kenneth R. Morefield. 2011. Chapter One; 1-10. Posted with the permission of Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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