L'Age d'Or

Luis Buñuel's 1930 L'Age d'Or sparked a riot and was banned by the Paris police. The aristocrat producer was threatened with excommunication, and although a print was smuggled to Britain, the camera negative was locked behind seven seals for nearly 60 years. Why? A collage of modes, L'Age d'Or begins as a documentary, shifts to an entropic costume drama, turns blatantly allegorical, pretends to be a travelogue of imperial Rome, drops in at a snooty garden party, and winds up cribbing the conclusion of the Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. Ten minutes into the action, L'Age d'Or declares its subject: A pompous nationalist religious ceremony is disrupted by the noisy lovemaking of a passionate couple who are forcibly separated and will spend much of the movie trying to get back together. Buñuel he scarcely idealizes the lovers, who, having been introduced rolling in the mud, are no less self-absorbed than their fellow bourgeois. The film suggests instances of sex and violence far more extreme than any actually represented while contriving effronteries so offhanded you can't believe you've actually seen them. (NR) J. HOBERMAN

Feb. 4-10, 6:30, 7:45 & 9 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 5, 5 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 6, 5 p.m., 2011

 
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