My Last Breath: The Autobiography of Luis Buñuel by Luis Buñuel (Translated by Abigail Israel - review by Frances Partridge

Frances Partridge

The Man Himself

My Last Breath: The Autobiography of Luis Buñuel

By

Jonathan Cape 264pp £8.95 order from our bookshop
 

Last summer we heard that one of the greatest cinema directors of this century, the Spaniard Luis Buñuel, had died at the age of eighty-three. Fortunately for us he had written his autobiography in French a few years earlier, and here we have it in its Anglo-American translation.

My Last Breath is an informal, discursive, almost conversational account of a career that began with a bang and pursued its undeviating course until the end of Buñuel’s life. A man of images rather than letters, Buñuel accepted the help of his script-writer, Carrière, but adds that ‘the portrait I have drawn is wholly mine’; and by the end of the book the reader may well find it hard to be sure whether the man he or she has come to know is not even more remarkable than his startlingly original output.

Born into a prosperous middle-class family in Aragon, Luis had a good education (first with the Jesuits, then at the famous Residencia of Madrid), passed his exams with flying colours and soon developed interests in music, acting and natural history – particularly of insects. But ‘the two basic sentiments of

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