It always come as a surprise to recall that Luis Buñuel's deserved fame as one of the great film-makers rests almost entirely on a handful of films he made in his sixties and seventies. Surely, by this time in an artist's life, a body of work has been built up through which the eager young student can trawl for those recurring themes and obsessions which mark the artist's development from spring chicken to wise old owl? Serious film students and enthusiasts will know of, even if they haven't seen, his two Surrealist masterpieces, Un Chien Andalou and L'Age d'Or, made in his late twenties and in the infancy of cinema itself. Then, apparently, nothing for thirty-odd years until Veridiana, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and the rest enthralled a new filmgoing generation.
Why, after the succès de scandale of his first two films, did his career apparently go down the pan? As John Baxter's admirably comprehensive biography reveals, it certainly wasn't through idleness. Buñuel worked whenever and at whatever he could, which, unfortunately, wasn't always at making the films of his heart's