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A watered-down Exterminating Angel
on 3 June 2015
Carriere/Bunuel won an Oscar for this portrayal of a middle class group whose attempt at having dinner is continually disrupted by a series of surreal events, or are the surreal events disrupted by the characters' continuing desire to have dinner? A dream film with no level of reality, we are assaulted with memorable vignettes of love-making, terrorism and military maneuvres. A bishop shoots a dying man who has murdered his parents while a South American dictator deals in drugs. The party go to dine at a colonel's house, are served rubber chickens and then are caught by a curtain being raised which reveals them to be dining on a stage in front of an audience. One of the guests wakes up and finds himself taking part in someone else's dream. Dreams within dreams emphasize repeatedly the eruption of repressed emotions pouring out of the cultural ritual of wanting to eat. Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Paul Frankeur, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Stephane Audran and Bulle Ogier all give fine performances, but one glance at The Exterminating Angel shows how soft the satirical edge really is here. Instead of assaulting our bourgeois sensibilities Bunuel ends up merely titillating us.