Angel exterminador, El (The Exterminating Angel) (1962)

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Released 16-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-La Strada, The Leopard, Tokyo Story,Vivre Sa Vie
Booklet-Luis Bunuels Social Surrealism:Essay By Dr Ernasto Acevedo
Audio Commentary-By Adrian Martin, Film Scholar and Editor of Rouge Magazine
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1962
Running Time 88:27 (Case: 95)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Luis Buñuel
Studio
Distributor
Madman
Madman Entertainment
Starring Enrique Rambal
Lucy Gallardo
Jacqueline Andere
Jose Baviera
Augusto Benedico
Luis Beristain
Claudio Brook
Silvia Pinal
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Raúl Lavista


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    As Adrian Martin points out at the beginning of his audio commentary, Luis Buñuel was sixty two years of age when he directed The Exterminating Angel. What is even more noteworthy is that Buñuel went on to make a further eight films over the next fifteen year period before his death in 1983. The Exterminating Angel was the second last film Buñuel would make in Mexico before moving to France and making a further seven films, many of which would be among the directors most well known and admired films.

    The Exterminating Angel strips bare the pretentious behavior and social rituals of the bourgeoisie. Along with Luis Buñuel's desire to satirise organised religion, ridicule of the bourgeoisie is a common theme through a great deal of his films.

    At a palatial estate on Providence Street preparations are underway for a society dinner for twenty guests. Nobile and his wife Lucia (Enrique Rambal and Lucy Gallardo) are the hosts of the evening and are anxious to have all the preparations in perfect order. However, their desire is thrown into disarray when all the servants decide to leave the house before the dinner commences. In defiance of the insubordination displayed by their staff, the hosts are resolved that the dinner will proceed regardless.

   Bizarre omens of impending chaos begin to emerge during the course of the evening. As we become acquainted with the myriad of personalities at the dinner party, repetitive gestures, dropped food trays and the presence of a bear and sheep in the house all herald the beginning of the end for protocol and manners.

    Late in the evening tired guests announce their goodbyes and gesture towards leaving the parlour. However, at the exit point of the room they all find a reason to change their minds and stay - none of the guests can cope with the stigma of being the first to leave the dinner party. Soon jackets are removed and guests make themselves as comfortable as possible on chairs, couches and even the floor.

    As the days go by, conditions in the parlour deteriorate significantly. Closets in the parlour become toilets as well as private places for romantic interludes. With the lack of food and water, tempers are short, with guests soon turning on each other and in particular, their host, blaming him for their predicament.

    The guests begin an undignified descent into savagery. In their self-imposed form of imprisonment, they are stripped of their social standing and have entered the unfamiliar territory of basic survival and caring for themselves. Outside the estate, families and authorities have gathered desperate to help, but all appear to be totally powerless.

    The guests smash a hole in a wall in order to gain access to a water pipe. When three sheep wander into the parlour they are quickly pounced upon. Two are cooked on an open fire in the middle of the parlour, while the other is restrained, obviously for a future banquet.

    The natural death of a guest and a suicide prove difficult to conseal from the party. This adds a heightened risk to the sanity of some of the guests before a timely solution is reached and the dinner party finally comes to an end.

    Days later the surviving members of the dinner party have reassembled in church to give praise for their deliverance - the perfect setting for Buñuel's final twist.

    The Exterminating Angel is certainly a dark comedy. Through the surreal elements of the narrative there is a considerable amount of humor in the story. Some have described The Exterminating Angel as a horror film, which I believe is somewhat misleading to those who haven't seen the film. Perhaps a better description might be to label it a disaster film...without the disaster.

Footnote: An important point of interest as been highlighted by follow reviewer, Philip S.

This edition of The Exterminating Angel has an edit of a key scene early in the film. This is one of Buñuel's repeating scenes of two female servants escaping the house just before the guests arrive. The edit removes the deliberate repeat placed in the scene by Buñuel.

The correct order of shots has the servants leaving but when they see that the guests are entering the hall so they hide in another room. The guests then enter the hall, the host calls his butler and the guests go upstairs. It then cuts to the servants in the other room who begin to leave thinking that the guests have gone upstairs. But when the guests enter the hall again they retreat back into the other room. We then see the guests entering for a second time, the host calls his butler and the guests go up the stairs.

This omission is not exclusive to this edition. The scene is also missing from the Spanish version and the UK, R2 version. It appears that the edit may have been deliberately done many years ago by a misguided distributor who thought the repeat in the scene was an error.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer for The Exterminating Angel exceeded my expectations.

    The film is presented fullscreen in its correct aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Despite having just a hint of softness (which is probably inherent in the source material), the transfer generally displays nice levels of sharpness and clarity. A couple of scenes appeared slightly over bright, but generally speaking, contrast was good throughout the film. Blacks were clean and free from annoying low-level-noise and shadows were mostly very good, holding a high degree of detail.

    There is no comment on colour, as The Exterminating Angel was filmed in glorious black and white.

    There are no MPEG artefacts of any significance. I noticed an extremely slight and pedantic example at 37:00 , which you will need to track frame by frame to actually pick up. Film-to-video artefacts were likewise negligible and not at all problematic.Thankfully the print used for this transfer was incredibly clean, thus film artefacts are not an adverse issue and were hardly noticed.

    The only subtitles available on this disc are in English. They are very clear and easily legible in bold white.

    This DVD is a single sided, dual layer disc. Unless your player has a buffer, the layer change will be easily noticed at 47:14 . This layer change occurs during some dialogue and is unfortunately poorly placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is also very good and remains faithful to the original mono recording.

    There are two audio tracks available on the DVD. Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    Having no knowledge of the Spanish language, it is rather difficult to comment on the dialogue quality. However, it certainly sounded clear throughout the duration of the film.

    There were also no obvious adverse issues with audio sync during the film. Not that it really matters, but the audio sync does lag considerably during the audio commentary. If you're concentrating on the commentary though, this fact shouldn't be much of a distraction.

    The original music in The Exterminating Angel was written by the prolific Mexican film composer, Raúl Lavista.

    The surround channels and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras on this disc are basically limited to a very good audio commentary.

Menu

    Keeping to the theme of the film, the main menu is in black and white, with subtle animation. The menu is also 16x9 enhanced and features a music sample from the film.

Booklet - 15 pages:  Luis Buñuel's Social Surrealism

    An informative essay by Dr Ernasto R. Acevedo-Munoz (Associate Professor of Film Studies, Comparative Literature & Humanities - University of Colorado USA). This piece discusses the cinematic life of Luis Buñuel and his unique style of surrealism that gives his films their distinctive charm.

Audio Commentary by Adrian Martin (Film Scholar and Editor of Rouge Magazine)

     It's rather nice to hear an Australian accent on the audio commentary of a foreign film. Adrian Martin may also be familiar to many for his film reviews for the Melbourne newspaper, The Age. He provides a thoroughly enlightening commentary on the film and avoids the common trap of repetitively describing scenes. Adrian also provides great insight into the life and work of Buñuel in general, which should satisfy anyone with a serious interest in his body of work. In addition to the above mentioned footnote, Adrian discusses the repetition element of the scene, but he doesn't mention the edit in this print.

Madman Trailers    

 

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In the absence of a R1 version to compare with, I will do the comparison against a recent all region, UK release. This UK version, released by Arrow on 28th August 2006, has the same specs as the R4 version, but is totally void of any extras. Therefore this reviewed R4 release with the commentary by Adrian Martin is the obvious choice between the two.

Summary

    The Exterminating Angel is widely regarded as a definitive work in the cinematic career of master surrealist, Luis Buñuel. His biting satire of bourgeois pretensions is rich in symbolism that is sometimes obvious and occaisonally obscure. This fact alone makes The Exterminating Angel a film worthy of countless viewings.

    Thankfully, the film is presented on DVD with an excellent video transfer.

    The original mono audio track is preserved and is also nicely transferred.

    The audio commentary is an wonderful inclusion and should interest admirers of Buñuel's films.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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