Surreal black comedy in which a group of friends repeatedly
meet in order to eat together and are thwarted each time.
The film consists of several thematically linked scenes:
five gatherings of a group of bourgeois friends, and the
four dreams of different characters. The beginning of the
film focuses on the gatherings, while the latter part focuses
on the dreams, but both types of scenes are intertwined.
There are also scenes involving other characters, such as
two involving a Latin American female terrorist from the
fictitious Republic of Miranda. The film's world is not
logical: the bizarre events are accepted by the characters,
even if they are impossible or contradictory.
The film begins with a bourgeois couple, the Thévenots
(Frankeur and Seyrig), accompanying M. Thévenot's
colleague Rafael Acosta (Rey) and Mme. Thévenot's
sister Florence (Ogier), to the house of the Sénéchals,
the hosts of a dinner party. Once they arrive, Alice Sénéchal
(Audran) is surprised to see them and explains that she
expected them the following evening and has no dinner prepared.
The would-be guests invite Mme Sénéchal to
join them for dinner at a nearby inn. Finally arriving at
the inn, the party find it locked. They knock and are invited
in, despite the waitress' seeming reluctance and an ominous
mention of "new management". Inside, there are
no diners (despite disconcertingly cheap prices) and the
sound of wailing voices from an adjoining room. It is learned
that the manager died a few hours earlier and his former
employees are holding vigil over his corpse, awaiting the
coroner. The party hurriedly leave.
Two days later, the bourgeois friends attempt to have lunch
at the Sénéchals, but he (Cassel) and his
wife escape to the garden to have sex instead of joining
them. One of the bourgeois friends takes this as a sign
that perhaps the Sénéchals are aware the police
are coming (fearing the discovery of the men's involvement
in cocaine trafficking) and were leaving to avoid arrest.
The party leaves again in panic.
At another, they visit a tea house, which turns out to
have run out of all beverages - tea, coffee, milk, and herbal
tea, although it finally turns out that they do have water.
While they are waiting, a soldier randomly tells them about
his childhood, and about how after the death of his mother,
he was educated by his cold-hearted father. The soldier's
mother (as a ghost) informs him that the man is not his
real father, but in fact, killed the soldier's father during
a duel over his mother's favor. Following his ghost mother's
request, the soldier poisons and kills the ruthless culprit.
A priest attempts to work for the couple who had (previously)
sneaked off to their garden to make love owing to their
unbearable stuffed-shirt guests. He explains to them about
his childhood - about how his parents were murdered by arsenic
poisoning, and the culprit was never apprehended. Later
on in the film, he goes to bless a dying man, but when it
turns out that the man was the gardener who killed the priest's
parents, he first blesses him, then fires the shotgun, killing
Various other aborted dinners ensue, with interruptions
including the arrival of a group of French army officers
who join the dinner, or the revelation that a French colonel's
dining room is in fact a stage set in a theatrical performance,
during a dream sequence. Ghosts make frequent appearances
in what seemed to be disconcerting dream sequences.
A recurring scene throughout the film of which the six people
are lost and walking silently on a road toward a mysterious
destination which is also in the final sequence.
The film was made in France and is mainly in French, with
some dialogue in Spanish.
The film received the 1972 Academy Award for Best Foreign
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Produced by Serge Silberman
Written by Luis Buñuel
Starring Fernando Rey
Cinematography Edmond Richard
Editing by Hélène Plemiannikov
Release date(s) September 15, 1972
October 22, 1972
Running time 102 minutes
Country France / Italy / Spain
Maria Gabriella Maione