There haven’t been many movies that we cover that have been made into operas. In 2016, this became one of them.
A surrealist film, Buñuel left it up to his audiences to decide what the story — a group of rich people cannot leave a party — is really about. Roger Ebert said, “The dinner guests represent the ruling class in Franco’s Spain. Having set a banquet table for themselves by defeating the workers in the Spanish Civil War, they sit down for a feast, only to find it never ends. They’re trapped in their own bourgeois cul-de-sac. Increasingly resentful at being shut off from the world outside, they grow mean and restless; their worst tendencies are revealed.”
During a formal dinner party at the lavish mansion of Señor Edmundo Nóbile and his wife Lucía, the servants all leave but the guests cannot. As the days past, some die, some commit suicide and nearly all of them go mad.
Only when they recreate the party — after failed mystic rituals and the attempted slaughter of their host — can they leave. Yet after attending a religious service to give thanks, they remain trapped again and disappear, along with the priests, as riots break out in the streets.
In Russia, the idea of people not being allowed to “leave a party” was considered offensive and anti-government, so the film was banned. And Buñuel himself believed that between the budget and the conditions in Mexico, the film was a failure. He wishes that it had been more extreme.