August 14, 2011

Must Watch Before You Die #17: The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

Luis Bunuel is one of the founding fathers of surrealistic cinema. With 'Un chien andalou' (1929), possibly the most famous short-film in cinema history, he started a career that would mature into a prolific body of work over the next five decades and across continents. Bunuel is one essential chapter of cinema and many of his films would be considered must-watch.

I just watched my tenth Bunuel film, his second-last. And I'm yet again amazed by the humour he manages to create out of the most bizarre situations. 'The Phantom of Liberty' is one of the most absurd films you will ever see, and also one of the most unforgettable. I'm tempted to share one of the amazing episodes from the movie.

Parents of a girl are informed that their daughter has 'disappeared' from the class-room. When they reach the school, the headmistress takes them to the class-room and tries to explain the incredible accident. She claims that the girl entered the class, and never left, but is still nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, we see a girl rise from her seat and approach the mother - she is the 'missing' girl. The mother asks her to keep quiet as the headmistress talks about her 'disappearance'.

The parents then take the girl to the police station, to file a complaint. They introduce their daughter to the police officer and complain that she is nowhere to be found. The officer files a 'missing' complain and thanks them for bringing the daughter along as that would help them know how she looks like. The story moves ahead, involving other episodes and characters, and it takes some days for the girl to be found!

I might have spoiled some fun by sharing this episode here, but I could not resist the temptation. I hope reading this would make you realize how absurd this film is. Bizarre, and extremely entertaining, 'The Phantom of Liberty' is not to be missed.


  1. I remember watching 'Phantom of Liberty' in college. I could watch the movie but could never understand the motive. I am trying to get his movies again since a legend like him shouldn't be left unseen just because he makes surrealistic cinema.

  2. Luis Bunuel is a must. In the league of the greatest masters...