The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) Luis Buñuel collaborates with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière to define ‘haute bourgeoisie‘ as the inability to finish a meal without being interrupted. Minor characters recount dreams and memories; the bourgeoisie deal cocaine, commit adultery, and invite terrorism; what’s real all depends on who is dreaming whom. Propriety and its condescending boudoirs are mocked with Spanish savagery.
As an appatizer, the Ambassador
From Miranda takes aim at a terrorist
On the street outside his embassy
Than tries to seduce her in his chambers.
For first course, Champaigne
And cocaine spark a business lunch,
With a variety of small cheeses
Not even kitchen rats would touch.
Everybody smiles and smiles freeze.
Women admire each other’s blouses.
The help glide by on the periphery
As do military on night maneuvers.
For second course, fried grouse
From third world rain forests,
With just a soupçon of peasant
Blood in the dry Cahblis.
It adds prestige to employ
The Church at their residence;
The garden tempts Monseigneur
With shotgun vengeance.
For the main course, noblesse oblige
On a five tiered serviette
Enfllambé over a corpse on the piano.
Seems is better than meets the eye.
For desert, an evening in jail;
The Ambassador from Miranda
Demanding diplomatic rights
Is freed by the Bloody Sergeant.
Finally, just before bed,
Mercantile instincts take over
Bargaining, groping for
That last leg of lamb.
[Disposable Poem August 16, 2016]
When [The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie] had been nominated for an Oscar, four Mexican reporters tracked us down at El Paular, where we were already at work on another project. During lunch, they asked if I thought I was going to win that Oscar.
“Of course,” I replied between bites. “I’ve already paid the twenty-five thousand dollars they wanted. Americans may have their weaknesses, but they do keep their promises.”
A few days later, headlines in Mexico City announced that I’d bought the Oscar. Los Angeles was scandalized; telexes poured in; Silberman flew over in a rage from Paris. I assured him it was all a joke, but it took quite a while for the dust to settle. Ironically, the film did win an Oscar three weeks later.
– Luis Buñuel (above, in disguise, with the Oscar.)