The Exterminating Angel

Screening: Saturday, March 9, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre, 35mm*


For the third film in our Extraordinary Visions series, we’re proud to present The Exterminating Angel by director Luis Buñuel and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. Nominated for the Palme d’Or in 1962 and a time-tested treasure of both Mexican and international film history, this film is at once anarchic, hilarious, and impossibly dark. To wet your cinematic apetite, look below for pics, clips, and quotes.

“Luis Buñuel’s ferociously brilliant The Exterminating Angel is one of his most provocative and unforgettable works. In it we watch a trivial breach of etiquette transform into the destruction of civilization. Not only does this story undermine our confidence in our social institutions but it challenges our powers of cognition and perception, which are shown to be easily distorted by unreliable narratives. Perhaps most threatening, despite the emotional distance from the characters that Buñuel’s satiric vision grants us, we are ultimately forced to see that we in the audience are also objects of his attack.

“When the thin veneer of civilization breaks down, Buñuel’s bourgeois guests descend into brutal savagery, breaking down walls to get at water pipes, committing suicide and demanding the sacrificial death of the host, and turning to magic, dreams, and narrative for consolation and release. Their mysterious inability to leave the room is experienced as a failure of will–perhaps no more mysterious than the one that prevents citizens from changing the totally corrupt economic, social, and political system on which their own privileges (and the miseries of the servants and other have-nots) are based.”

–Marsha Kinder, Criterion Collection Essay

Exterminating[1]“One of the most truly surrealistic works ever filmed–in some ways even more so than the Buñuel/Dali classic Un Chien AndalouThe Exterminating Angel is as powerful today as when it was shot, and as original.

“…for Buñuel, hell is not just other people but, more importantly, a social structure that destroys and deforms human relations. That’s why it makes an excellent companion to the very different Los olvidados (The Forgotten Ones, 1950), about youth in a Mexico City slum. There, poverty makes human dignity difficult to maintain and violence runs rampant–exacly the sort of behavior that elicits a sneering reaction from the protagonists of Exterminating Angel, who feel that decorum is breached merely when a jacket is removed at a formal evening. What they undergo, however, breaks down (for the audience at least) that smug sense of superiority.”

–Karen Backstein, CineasteExterminating2

*Print Courtesy of Academy Film Archive

For tickets to the Saturday, March 9th screening of The Exterminating Angel, click HERE.