I was suprised to find no one else had ever made a post similar to this before. Maybe I didn’t look deep enough, or maybe I’m just that dumb. Sometimes I certainly do feel quite dead to symbolism in movies.
Anyway, to the point. I understood (or atleast thought so) all of That Obscure Object of Desire until the last two minutes. That is where I’m lost. I didn’t particularly like the film. It wasn’t horrible, and I deffinately appreciate it as a work of art, I just can’t stand movies about women manipulating men, so that’s that. (Perhaps she wasn’t manipulating him, correct me if I’m wrong please.)
I understand some films are open quite vastly to individual interpretation, but I have no clue where to even start thinking about this, honestly. And I can tell it will drive me crazy for some time. So any help is appreciated.
I don’t think she was merely trying to manipulate him. Sure, she does, but I don’t think it’s a matter of taking sides like that. They’re both very flawed. I think she realized that she was a conquest for him and as soon as she gave it up to him that he’d move onto the next big conquest. As for the ending, I’ve read a few interesting things about it, but at the moment can’t articulate them from memory.
And I agree they WERE both very flawed, and I’ll probably be the only one to admit, I literally had no idea two actresses were used, though I was thinking something was odd about her. Nudity in film clouds my judgement…
The thing about women manipulating men in films that makes me angry is the men, in fact. The women too but it’s the men who fall for it, and let it happen when they could just walk away and find someone who won’t torture them. (there are tons of examples of the opposite, so don’t call me sexist)
I thought they were both the same woman too on first viewing too (when they clearly aren’t), embarrassingly. I watched it again a few days ago and still didn’t understand the ending at all, I thought it much better though I think it’s an absolutely wonderful film.
Interesting reactions. I’m sure that’s ripe for analysis, the not seeing the obvious difference between the two women on first viewing.
Brilliant film. I love it. Talk about great final films. The explosive ending has no particular meaning. It’s just part and parcel of the violence of contemporary society that he shows to flare up throughout the film.
‘As Vincent Canby wrote, “in this upside-down romance . . . Love, Buñuel seems to be telling us, is a devastating act of subversion.”’
‘The great Spanish director once wrote that his films would convey to audiences “the absolute certainty that they do not live in the best of all possible worlds.”’
Hmm, certainly glad to find out I’m not the only one who didn’t notice the about the actresses. And also the only one that didn’t understand the ending. What I can’t figure out though, is right after she pours water on him and he follows her to what appears to be a bathroom, she appears frightened, and then it just cuts. What happens after that? Was what remained after that supposed to have some meaning or perpose whatsoever? Or is what you’re saying that it was just random?
I don’t remember the film well enough to recall those exact beats. I’d have to see the conclusion again.
I thought the explosion at the end was a terrorist attack 0_0
not a good movie
Yes the explosion is a terrorist attack. The explosion is not exactly what I wish interpretted.
Soooo….no one has any insight to this???
If you want a rational meaning/decoding of a Bunuel image, I think you need to reevaluate your overall approach to his cinema! Certainly in regards to what he has shown you throughout this particular film.
Ok, so as far as I understand you are puzzled by the moment when he has finally finished telling his story to the others in the compartment and she appears just to pour water on him, he chases her to the restroom and then it cuts to the next scene when they are walking together? And you are wondering what happened between those two scenes?
I don’t think that anyone can give you a definite answer to that question, and I personally don’t think that it matters that much :) For me there are two options – either he finally consumed the object of his desire or she convinced him once again to postpone that consummation :)) I prefer to think it is the latter, it’s more to the spirit of the film :)
Bunuel has often claimed that he hated symbolism and symbolic interpretations of his films and laughed loudly when he read critics’ reviews and interpretations of his work. I can’t give him enough credit on that but what happens in his movies is indeed so open to individual interpretations that it does not even matter if the viewer’s perception coincides with what he had in mind (although I would have loved to know who he thought was the murderer in his ‘’Diary of a Chambermaid’’)…
I also like what the co-writer of the script of ‘’This Obscure Object of Desire’‘, Jean-Claude Carriere, says about the sewing scene at the end – how Bunuel’s body of work came full circle with that scene, as if sewing the sliced eyeball from the opening scene of his first movie, ‘’Un Chien Andalou’’ , made almost 50 years ago…
As for not noticing the use of two actresses on first viewing, as far as I know the legend has it that there was an experiment conducted at some universities and 2/3 of the audience admitted that they had not noticed that fact either on first viewing, so you are not alone for sure :) I remember when first seeing the movie I felt something was wrong and halfway through the movie i took a look at the description on the back of the DVD and it was mentioned there, so I guess I kind of spoiled that somehow for myself :)
One last thing to mention as I was browsing and reading through the topic about the pros and cons of dubbing and subtitles, I only recently found out that it is not Fernando Rey’s voice used in the film but rather Michel Piccoli’s :)
Well, sorry for the long post, I guess not much of an insight on the problem raised but could not resist the temptation to share some thoughts about a movie by probably my favorite director :))
I’d love to continue analyzing this “confusion” of the fact that two actresses were used to represent one character. I read too much about the film before I saw it, so I was expecting the conceit of two actresses. But I wonder if I went into the film blind (no pun intended) would I have noticed?
So I’m wondering what the causes of this “blindness” are. Is the movie so engaging that one gets swept away in its narrative? Is it so coded as “Bunuel surrealism” that one takes for granted something is strange, yet at the same time does not actively engage that idea and lets it pass? Or are we dealing with a bigger issue here regarding women and the “gaze”, and other ideological concerns?
Just offhand, I’d like to mention that my memory for faces is practically zero, I confuse people like Kevin Kline and Kevin Spacey all the time, and I’ve even made the horrible horrible HORRIBLE mistake of getting JFK and Ronald Reagan mixed up.
…and I could tell those women were different pretty easily.
Maybe I sort of live in Bunuel’s world. His surrealism “makes sense” to me in that everything follows perfectly fine, even though it doesn’t happen in the real world at all, and I rarely feel like I leave his movies with any sorts of questions, just an impression. That obscure object of desire is not so obscure, his telling of the tale isn’t very objective, and his desire isn’t really desirable—because it’s not her that he desires, but the chase itself. Which is why both are mutually locked together, married beyond the social recognition of civic union. Thus, the ending…? I mean, why would it be any other way?
One thing that nobody has mentioned is that everything about one actress is Spanish and everything about the other actress is French. They are night and day. Not only can I not imagine not being able to tell them apart, I can’t even imagine them switching any of their scenes. Bunuel was telling a big fat lie when he said he chose their scenes arbitrarily.
Why? What is inherently “French” or “Spanish” about the respective scenes they play in?
And come on, getting JFK and Reagan mixed up? I think THAT’S a big fat lie! Haha! JFK only has one of the most iconic faces of the 20th century. I mean, that’s like getting Hitler and Mussolini mixed up.
“So I’m wondering what the causes of this “blindness” are. Is the movie so engaging that one gets swept away in its narrative? Is it so coded as “Bunuel surrealism” that one takes for granted something is strange, yet at the same time does not actively engage that idea and lets it pass? Or are we dealing with a bigger issue here regarding women and the “gaze”, and other ideological concerns?”
Maybe all of those are potential reasons :) I prefer to think it is simply the magic of cinema itself more than anything else… Carriere comments on that “blindness” regarding the case of the two actresses representing one character and so many people noticing that fact: “That only shows to what degree our eyes for more than an hour and a half cannot see, because of our habits of perception, our hidden negation of the exceptional, of everything that upsets the balance and bewilders. Cinema: a force that comforts reality.”
By the way, a little offtopic, I had a similar (although it is quite the reverse case) experience with Cronenberg’s “Spider” (contains SPOILERS):
Halfway through the movie I started “seeing” another woman when it was clearly still Miranda Richardson playing the character that was in the house, I was completely empathic with the schizophrenic perceptions of the protagonist, it was a strange feeling. Only at the very end I realized that Cronenberg and Richardson had managed to outwit me :))
“And come on, getting JFK and Reagan mixed up? I think THAT’S a big fat lie! "
There is a reason I am very careful about posting in political forums or political topics on a forum. (Actually, I avoid political forums entirely). And it is because I have, in fact, been banned from a forum for mixing up JFK and Ronald Reagan.
I have absolutely no defense or excuse for this. It was a simple, albeit egregious, mistake.
But yeah, whenever anybody questions why I can have no less than three different conversations with one person and still not recognize them a fourth time they say “Hi” to me, I cite this as evidence that my people-recognition skills is absolutely fucked.
By the way, I read in The Economist that the process of learning how to read forces people to unlearn certain shape recognition skills which can be related to facial and interpersonal recognition. So now I guess I can say that my years of sitting alone in my room reading books when I was little was actually a bad thing for me, in that it has drastically reduced my networking abilities. On the other hand, watching movies has sort of forced me to learn actors and actor-recognition, especially Japanese movies, so I think I’m redeveloping that skill, slowly enough.
Just a little cognitive psychology for y’all. Back to topic.
she is two-personed and doesn’t has the best character. he’s not the hottest lover. they holding up each others mirror. not daring to see one in the other.