That Obscure Object of Desire

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Buñuel's last film, adapted from the Pierre Louys novel (about a woman who drives a man to distractions of frustrated desire) which also served as a basis for Sternberg's The Devil Is a Woman. Full of echoes from Buñuel's earlier work, it might almost be seen as a summation of his preoccupation with the connection between sex and violence, first annotated in L'Age d'or. His great coup here is to have the object of the hero's lusts played by two different actresses, with the alternation of svelte coolness and steamy voluptuousness lending teasing credibility to the way in which his ardour is cruelly cooled and heated by turns. These sexual games are brilliantly and tantalisingly funny, but the film is meanwhile secretly pursuing another obscure object of desire: the terrorism which surfaces in various forms (moral, social, cultural, economic, psychological, and even political), ranging from the bomb outrages that accompany the hero in his sexual odyssey down to the financial pressures he exerts in order to have his way. And just as L'Age d'or ended with an equation between the sexual and revolutionary acts, so does That Obscure Object of Desire, though in a deliberately coded, mystificatory form.

Release details

Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Luis Buñuel
Screenwriter: Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière
Cast: Fernando Rey
Carole Bouquet
Angela Molina
Julien Bertheau
André Weber
Milena Vukotic
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