THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL
(El Angel Exterminador)
Luis Buñuel essentially plays the scenario here as a jolly jape. The Exterminating Angel is a one-gag idea, not unlike a Eugene Ionescu or a Samuel Beckett one-act play. While amusing, the gag is never more than its solitary idea. Luis Buñuel seems to lack the ability to let the central idea expand to anything more than that. He seems disinterested in the characters and rarely does anything to differentiate them one from another or spend any time concerning himself with their internal conflicts. He never does much to dramatically twist the situation either the cast are not even reduced to barbarity, merely disheveledness. There is an amusingly sardonic epilogue where the group of people attend a church service but appear unwilling to leave after it ends, with the film fading out as another herd of sheep start wandering towards the church.
The Exterminating Angel is a likable joke but too much of the idea remains unfulfilled. The title, as one might note of almost all of Luis Buñuels films listed below, has nothing to do with anything in the film there are no angels present and the situation at most is one of attrition rather than of extermination, least of which nobody is killed anyway.
The Exterminating Angel was spoofed in Woody Allens Midnight in Paris (2011), which has a time-travelling Owen Wilson meeting Luis Buñuel and giving him the idea for the film.
Luis Buñuels other films of fantastic note are: his two surrealist short collaborations with Salvador Dali, Un Chien Andalou (1928) and LAge dOr (1930); Simon of the Desert (1965) about a virtuous man being tempted by The Devil; The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972); and The Phantom of Liberty (1974), which contains a series of surrealistic vignettes. Buñuel also wrote the silent French Edgar Allan Poe adaptation The Fall of the House of Usher (1928) and The Monk (1972), an adaptation of the classic work about The Devil tempting a monk and drawing him down into depravity.