L'Age d'or(Kino International, 11.23.2004)
The relationship between Dali and Bunuel pretty much ended during the making of Bunuel's next film L'Age d'or, which was released onÂ DVD the month before its predecessor by Kino International. While not as well-known as the first film (perhaps due in part to its being censored by the French government until after the director's death), it contains more than its share of outrage and provoked a reaction from the right wing that Michael Moore could only dream of.
Its last reel contains a set-piece that caused a riot at its premiere (and I don't want to spoil it for you here if you don't know about it...suffice it to say, it would still get a filmmaker in hot water today), and left its director unemployed in Europe for nearly thirty years -- he would have to make his next few features on shoestring budgets in Mexico -- and its producer was nearly excommunicated from the Catholic church.
On DVD, the film is not nearly as explosive (and how could it be?) as it was in those early days but the presentation is, again, as good as can be expected. I don't imagine the camera original negative for a film banned in its country of origin would still exist so the source print is going to be compromised. But the power of the images more than makes up for the lack of technical quality.
The extras, however, leave something to be desired. The commentary by Robert Short (author of "Age of Gold: Surrealist Cinema") is nearly non-existent on the disc. I'd be amazed if his total talk runs longer than twenty minutes (on a 63-minute film) and primarily re-caps what's onscreen. Now, I'm happy to see that this film is available at all, let alone on a disc with any features, but surely a man who wrote a book on surrealist cinema can come up with an hour's worth of information. But maybe that's part of the surrealist joke, that even the special features on the DVD can provoke frustration and incomprehension. -- Christopher Hyatt