Sog., Scen.: Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí. F.: Albert Duverger. M.: Luis Buñuel. Scgf.: Pierre Schildknecht. Mus.: Georges Van Parys. Int.: Lya Lys (la donna), Gaston Modot (l’uomo), Max Ernst (capo dei banditi), Pierre Prévert (Péman, il bandito), Caridad de Laberdesque (la cameriera), Lionel Salem (duca di Blangis), Germaine Noizet (marchesa di X), Bonaventura Ibáñez (marchese di X), Josep Llorens Artigas (il governatore). Prod.: Charles de Noailles, Marie-Laure de Noailles. DCP 4K. D.: 75’. Bn.
L’Âge d’or is also – and above all – a film about amour fou, the irresistible urge that, in every circumstance, pushes a man and a woman who can never be together toward each other.
L’Âge d’or is a landmark film, even a DeMille-style blockbuster, and Dalí was right when he smugly observed that it looked like a Hollywood film: it contains Jesus Christ and ancient Rome, bishops, governors and ministers, love and crime. And its landscape is the whole world: the sea and snowy mountains, the desert and the city, the cathedral and the centre of power.
If this is what makes L’Âge d’or one of Buñuel’s great films, comparable in terms of theoretical ambition and historical scope only to The Milky Way 40 years later, and in any case his first professional film, it was also his last surrealist film, at least in a strict and militant sense. Although it rejects avant-garde cinema style and its quirks more visibly than his previous film Un chien andalou, it is still a film that defies every genre and convention, every civil and moral law, from its patronage-based production to its blatant expressive freedom. […] Surrealism penetrates it at every level, starting with the lavish series of paradoxical associations and absurd images: bishops officiating on a cliff, a cow in the bedroom and a farm wagon in the ballroom, a monstrance in a car and priests in the orchestra, people carrying a stone on their heads […], ending with a series of things, people, animals and vegetables thrown out of a window, including a giraffe, the ‘obviously’ surrealist animal that would be the main character of a quasi-theoretical work a few years later. It is a genuine illustrated inventory of surrealism, whose end is perhaps announced by that throwing out.
Alberto Farassino, Tutto il cinema di Luis Buñuel, Baldini & Castoldi, Milan 2000
The 4K restoration was undertaken drawing on the original nitrate camera negatives and other conservation elements. Given that certain frames of the nitrate elements were decomposing and therefore unusable, it is only thanks to the analogue restoration carried out in 1993 by the Centre Pompidou that these scenes could be recovered and substituted into the new restoration. A projection copy from the era was also used as a reference for calibration. A wet-gate scan was performed on the original camera negative while the sound was restored to reflect the original, still imperfect post-synchronisation techniques used in 1930. The restoration of the variable density soundtrack – recorded at the time in the Films Sonores Tobis Paris studios, located in the Éclair laboratories – was carried out in the L.E. Diapason studio. Both institutions wanted to restore the film respecting the original sound format, 1.20, and conserving the defects introduced during the filming process: haloes, dark patches, development marks, superimpositions and hairs and scratches introduced during the shoot. The decision was made not to correct these. Several shots taken from repertory footage appear grainier and more scratched when compared to the beauty of newly shot sequences. The visibility of such defects in the restored copy reflects the context in which the film was made and the experimentalism of the original shoot. The Cinémathèque française also restored two other films by Luis Buñuel, Un chien andalou and Las hurdes.
Hervé Pichard and Céline Ruivo