EL (1953)

A husband’s obsessive jealousy over his young wife leads to delirium, in one of the finest of the surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s Mexican films.

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Film details

Alternative titles

  • EL Original
  • HE Alternative
  • THIS STRANGE PASSION Alternative

Cast & Credits

Introduction

“Buñuel’s exploration of male fetishism reaches its most elaborate form in Él. The film offers through horror and comedy grand guignol spectacles of paranoid jealousy.”
Peter William Evans, The Films of Luis Buñuel: Subjectivity and Desire, 1995

Between his scandalous first surrealist shorts and the refined but no less provocative films of his 1960s return to France, Luis Buñuel worked in exile within the commercial film industry in Mexico. Less well-known than his French and Spanish work, the many films he made there reveal the director’s familiar preoccupations.

Él features a typical Buñuelian protagonist, a bourgeois gentleman undone by his neurotic fixation and desire for a woman. Eyeing her in church, Francisco (played by Arturo de Córdova in a role that would later usually fall to Fernando Rey) soon persuades the object of his desire into marriage but is slowly destroyed by his own possessiveness. As so often in Buñuel’s work, base instinct is at loggerheads with propriety in this deadpan, slyly tragic parable.

Two actresses play one woman as she blows hot and cold toward a knavish Fernando Rey in Buñuel’s final film, That Obscure Object of Desire (1977).

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