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Death In The Garden

Distributed by Microcinema International/Microcinema DVD, 1636 Bush St., Suite #2, SF, CA 94109; 415-447-9750
Produced by Jacques Mage and Oscar Dancigers
Directed by Luis Buñuel
DVD, color, 100 min., English, Spanish,French with French, English, German, Spanish subtitles
Jr. High - Adult

Reviewed by Sebastian Derry, Temple University

Date Entered: 1/12/2010

A product of Luis Buñuel’s “Mexican Period” and based on the book by José-André Lacour, this is the first DVD release of one of the lesser-known works by this giant of world cinema.

In a tiny South American mining town there is revolution in the air, as angry gold miners square off against government forces for control of the area’s mineral resources. Into this powder keg strolls Chark, an outlaw of sorts (played to perfection by Georges Marchal).

After Chark crosses paths with Djin the local prostitute (Simone Signoret), Father Lizardi (Michel Piccoli), Castin an old miner/shopkeeper (Charles Vanel) and his deaf-mute daughter María (Michèle Girardon), the powder keg explodes. Chark and his cohorts are then forced to make a desperate escape from the authorities, eventually making their way by foot through the jungle. From here things go from bad to worse. Lost and lacking food, water, and shelter the characters become more and more despondent, facing almost certain death.

On the surface what seems like a conventional tale of survival becomes, in the hands of a master like Buñuel, a powerful study on the nature of good and evil. What would one do to stay alive?

The film never lags; Buñuel’s sense of pacing, his adroit handling of both the action and narrative elements, sharp cinematography and editing, and strong performances from all the leads add up to a gem of a film.

Bonus Features: Audio commentary by film scholar Ernesto R. Acevedo-Munoz; interviews with actor Michael Piccoli and film scholar Victor Fuentes; still gallery; and booklet essays by Juan-Luis Buñuel and Susan Hayward.

Recommended for all libraries.