Essay about Land Without Bread

1391 Words Apr 8th, 2013 6 Pages
Land Without Bread by Luis Bunuel
There are numerous ethnographic surrealist films that have an intriguing relationship to aesthetics and politics. A film that exemplifies this relationship is “Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan” (Land Without Bread). This film is only 27-minutes and is directed by the infamous Luis Bunuel in 1933. Bunuel was a Spanish filmmaker of the 1920’s to the 1970’s. He is often attributed to being one of the major contributors to the surrealist movement of the 1920’s. “Ethnographic surrealism is a utopian construct, a statement at once about past and future possibilities for cultural analysis.”(Clifford, 119) ‘Land Without Bread’ has a clear connection between politics and aesthetics. It uses many techniques, specifically
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The opening sequence of the film introduces and defines the genre ("a filmed essay in human geography") and the setting ("a sterile and inhospitable area" in Spain). The expedition begins in Alberca with the watching of a "strange and barbaric ceremony." Once the people of the town are "drunk with wine," the expedition continues to an uninhibited monastery. Afterwards, we move on to the first village of Las Hurdes, where numerous young girls eat bread dipped in the water of a small stream. At the local school, "starving" children study geometry and educational moral lessons. Arriving in another village, the expedition meets a "choir of idiots" and then finds a young girl ill in the street. Land Without Bread then surveys the Hurdanos' diet of potatoes, beans, pork, and honey. The scene where a goat falls off a mountain and a donkey is covered and killed by bees is staged unbeknownst to the viewer. A short-lived essay on mosquitoes and malaria leads into a portion on illness and dwarfism, caused "by hunger, by lack of hygiene, and by incest.". As the camera pans across some graves marked with crosses, we hear that, "despite the great misery of the Hurdanos, their moral and religious ideas are the same as in other parts of the world." We tour a "luxurious" church before visiting the inside of a Hurdano home. As the family prepares for bed, an elderly woman walks the darkened streets, chanting of death. The expedition abruptly ends.
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