Luis Buñuel has provoked our perception of reality and set the standards for avant-garde filmmaking. With a major retrospective of director’s work at ICA, we look into his biography.

He learnt the craft from Jean Epstein.

Epstein worked on an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher when he was assisted by Buñuel. He warned the aspiring director of his ‘surrealist tendencies’, but Buñuel was undaunted. Watching Epstein’s capacity to link film and impressionism, he had a chance to outline his own irrational path.

Un Chien Andalou was co-written by Salvador Dali.

Dali and Buñuel met at the university in Madrid, only to become close collaborators. For his debut in 1929, Buñuel created a 16-minute long film of non-related scenes that shocked the audience. Following the principle that ‘no idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted’, they officially introduced surrealism to the art of cinema.

He waited 20 years to make Wuthering Heights.

„Really, I was no longer interested in making the film, and I didn’t try any innovations. It remains the film I conceived in 1930, a 24-year-old film, but I think it’s faithful to the spirit of Emily Brontë. It’s a very harsh film, without concessions, and it respects the novel’s attitude toward love,” said Buñuel of the film that took 20 years to complete due to financial difficulties.

His L’Age d’Or was banned from cinemas.

Buñuel’s first feature film came in 1930 and disturbed the public. A five-chapter critique of Catholic faith, the movie questioned all coventional forms of social life. Prohibited in France and withdrawn from distribution, it was re-issued in 1979.

He did not rejoice his success.

Winning an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film three times, the Spanish director was outraged by the applause. He commented on Hollywood awards: „Nothing would disgust me more morally than winning an Oscar.”

The retrospective of works by Luis Buñuel takes place at ICA, London until December, 6. See the details here.