Newest Reviews
12 Hour Shift
Filmmaker's House, The
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Butt Boy
Dog of Flanders, The
Bushido Blade, The
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
  Phantom of Liberty, The Stuff And Nonsense
Year: 1974
Director: Luis Buñuel
Stars: Adriana Asti, Julien Bertheau, Jean-Claude Brialy, Adolfo Celi, Michael Lonsdale, Pierre Maguelon, François Maistre, Hélène Perdrière, Michel Piccoli, Claude Piéplu, Jean Rochefort, Bernard Verley, Milena Vukotic, Monica Vitti, Marie-France Pisier
Genre: Comedy, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Back in Napoleonic times, and the French army were occupying the Spanish town of Toledo where a group of Spanish soldiers and sympathisers were being executed. The French were behaving abominably, so much so that a captain of the regiment carrying out the executions went as far as desecrating the local church, helping himself to communion wafers as if they were cookies. As if that was not bad enough, he took a shine to one of the statues of the saints, although when he tried to kiss it the statue kneeling next to it slapped him. He was not to be put off, and arranged the remains of the saint to be exhumed so he could have his wicked way with them...

If you think you're going to spend the next ninety minutes after that watching a film about necrophilia, then be prepared for your expectations to be constantly confounded, because that is what The Phantom of Liberty is all about. After the success of his previous work, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, writer and director Luis Buñuel continued to plough the surrealist furrow that had served him so well for so long with this virtually plotless follow-up. It was billed as a comedy, and featured a selection of bizarre episodes that were only connected by some character wandering off into their own concerrns and having us pursue them.

That's pursue as in go after, not as in work out what they're supposed to be doing or representing. In the seventies there emerged a type of comedy film where sketches were assembled with the subject matter considered too risqué or offensive for television, and The Kentucky Fried Movie was probably the best known of these, but essentially what Buñuel and his script collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière were doing here was an arthouse version of those humorous efforts. You could be forgiven for thinking that they made all these instalments up, connected them in the best way they could, then slapped a meaningful and allusive title on them, but apparently more thought went into this than that.

The title is reputedly taken from Karl Marx, and references the lack of true freedom in the modern world, whether it's political or artistic; the two writers found that with the complete freedom to do what they wanted with their screenplay, they had a hard time coming up with material that was good enough, hence, the liberty they thought they would enjoy was a phantom. You could also apply this to the social settings that the film depicts, with a host of authority figures getting themselves or other people into trouble, for example the police commissioner who tries to open his four-years-dead sister's coffin to see if she is still alive (he has recently had a telephone call from her) and ends up being arrested.

If he was the police commissioner at all, that is. Buñuel is forever pulling the rug out from under us, and if this sounds like it's going to be a laugh riot, then you're mistaken for while there are undoubtedly some very solid laughs here, most of it takes the weirdness far too seriously. Familiar targets such as religion are in the director's sights, so a collection of monks start praying for the recovery of a guest at a hotel, then end up gambling with their holy paraphernalia as if they were poker chips, but he also takes aim at the law - a sniper picking off members of the public is sentenced to death, which in practice means he goes free and hands out autographs as a celebrity, and the police. Even the family unit is not sacred, where a dinner party involves sitting on toilets round the table and eating in the bathroom, and a little girl, all the while in plain sight, is registered missing by her parents who keep telling her to be quiet when she protests. In truth, The Phantom of Liberty is overrated, as it doesn't really put over enough of a unifying theory in its absurdism, content to throw up whatever took its creators' fancy. It has its moments.

Aka: Le fantôme de la liberté.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2377 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash


Last Updated: