Some people find it difficult to understant this movie, because it has no plot. Others think it is funny..
It is a series of "Vignetes" linked by a very tiny idea thread. The key to understand it is Goya's painting "El 3 de Mayo 1808 - Las executiones" about the executions of Spaniards in Toledo. Someone shouts "Vivan las cadenas" (hail to the chains). Bunuel himself plays a friar that faces the firing squad and dies. The French soldiers where supposed to bring freedom to the enchained Spanish people.
The same painting appears at the Police Inspector's office when the parents go there to report the missing daughter that is right there answering the Inspector's questions..
Later on, this same inspector arrests one "Prefet de Police" that went to the Cemitery and tried to open the coffin of his dead sister..A second "Prefect de Police" appears (played by Michel Picolli). He desmisses the inspector and both "Prefets", after drinking a scotch, go happily to the zoo to disperse a protest. We do not see the protesters, but hear the sounds of shots and cries of victims. Just before the "prefects" comment: "if some animals are killed, too bad for them..."
"Bunuel was everything, but arbitrary.." says (in French) Jean-Claude Carriere in a "Proposito de Bunuel" a documentary that accompanies the Criterion DVD of "Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie".
I say Bunuel was never "funny, and in this movie he is crystal clear. Freedom only brings misery to mankind, except to a priviledged few who make stupid use if it...