The Exterminating Angel
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“If you see one opera this year, make it The Exterminating Angel,” ran the headline in the New York Times after the US premiere of Thomas Adès’ “stunningly inventive” opera based on Luis Buñuel’s surreal and satirical 1962 film El ángel exterminador. Like the British composer’s score, Tom Cairns’ production is both spectacular and surprising. “Adès keeps the listener on edge,” wrote Opera magazine, “because one never knows where his dazzling palette of possibilities will take him next.”
- Language : English, English
- Product dimensions : 1.78 x 19.05 x 13.72 cm; 99.79 Grams
- Item Model Number : B07JYYJHX1
- Release date : 22 February 2019
- Subtitles: : English, French, German, Spanish
- Language : English (DTS 5.1), English (PCM 2.0 Stereo)
- Studio : Warner Music Group Germany Holding GmbH / Hamburg
- ASIN : B07JYYJHX1
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: 78,662 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- 60,548 in Movies (Movies & TV)
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Hereafter, a modest contribution to the many interpretations already published about 'The Exterminating Angel'.
We should not forget that the screenplay of this movie is based on an unfinished play by José Bergamin, a catholic and Marxist.
In 'Providence street' a group of upper class people (pars pro toto) gets trapped in a house after a dinner party given by the soprano Lucia after her performance as 'Lucia', the main role in the opera 'Lucia di Lammermoor' by G. Donizetti. The libretto of the opera, based on a novel by Walter Scott, contains a bad (forced) marriage, a mad scene, a ghost and a suicide, all elements used in the movie.
Before the dinner party began, all members of the underclass (the servants) had left the house for all kinds of reasons, except the majordomo ('a clown'). At night, the guests don't want to leave the house and prefer to stay inside it during the whole night. In the morning, they find out that they are trapped inside. A journey into 'the disintegration of human dignity' begins. Without their servants, the upper class members are not capable of organizing a normal way of life. Their mansion doesn't become a paradise, despite the playing of a piano piece by Pietro Domenico 'Paradisi' and despite a cabalistic ritual, amulets (chicken feet) or even a Masonic cry.
The inhabitants are confronted with other living 'symbols' inside the house: a bear (violence) and sheep (victims). The latter will be slaughtered in order to save the party members from starvation.
The spell is broken when a party member can reconstruct the past, the beginning of the ordeal. They can turn the time back and leave their prison. Their liberation is celebrated with a 'Te Deum' mass. When they come out of the church, they see another spectacle: common people are shot down by their long arm, the police. The plebs is offering itself up to the existing powers like sheep, of which a long row enters the church in a holy procession.
The opportunity of a power grab has been missed. The angel is still exterminating the underclasses.
The repeated shot in question is at the start of the film when we are shown the guests entering the grand hallway twice, separated by a shot of the maids sneaking out the front door. Not only is this very disorientating, it is also the start of a series of double takes and repeats throughout the narrative which are crucial to the denouement of the film. To my mind its absence make quite a difference.
Before I bought this Arrow DVD I emailed the company to ask if the reports of missing shots was true. They assured me that it was the correct version of the film and included the repeated shot - well it doesn't - the scene is missing. My correspondence with them would indicate that they are surprised to discover this as they thought the shot was included.
Further research has unearthed one plausible answer to its absence: possibly the owners of this particular print, having little knowledge or understanding of the film, assumed that the repeated shot was a lab error and had it cut out.
This is a no frills, no extras DVD taken from a reasonable quality print. The whites can get a bit hot but on the whole the rich B & W photography of the original is reasonably well transferred. But it's still a major disappointment because of the missing shot which does affect the balance of the film in my opinion.
Crikey this is an odd one and no mistake.All about an upper class dinner party where the guests find themselves unable to leave a drawing room,after dinner.They all say how very odd this is,but they still cannot bring themselves to leave.
They all become increasingly desperate as the days go by and it all degenerates as you would predict,as hunger and thirst kick in.
Bunuel is pointing out what basic parasitic beasts the upper classses are,and portrays their true selves as the social niceities break down between them.In B & W.
Not the best film i've seen and not the worst.If you are expecting to figure it all out- best of luck,girlfriend gave up halfway through.
Mordant, funny, ironic verging on sardonic, yet occasionally sympathetic to the
plight of its characters, and unfailingly artistic throughout.
Many single frames would by themselves win photography prizes -- the composition,
lighting, and rich B&W tones are simply gorgeous.
As in almost any Bunuel movie, there is no real story; instead, using nearly
only images (this could work as a silent movie), Bunuel tells us a parable
about bestial and noble actions, about the delicate nature of the veneer of
civilization, about mob behavior and moral virtues,
all crystallized in the light of an apparently supernatural condition
(hence the "angel" in the title).
At the end, Bunuel pulls one of his signature surprises on us, perhaps to tell us
that the rather wealthy and mostly vain people whose behavioral responses were
just illustrated under his camera's eye are just a random sample of humankind.
B&W movies do not come any better than this.