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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972, Fr.) (aka Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie)

In surrealist director Luis Bunuel's satirical, dramatic comedy masterpiece about entitled dinner-goers, presented episodically, there were real-world events, inserted narratives, and dream sequences (one was a dream-within-a-dream) - it was the winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar:

  • the attempts of six middle-class (affluent bourgeoisie) Parisians to have a meal together, including the host and hostess, Alice (Stephane Audran) and Henri Senechal (Jean-Pierre Cassel), Rafael Acosta (Fernando Rey) - the South American Ambassador of a fictional Latin American country called the Republic of Miranda, Francois (Paul Frankeur) and Simone Thévenot (Delphine Seyrig), and Simone's spaced-out alcoholic sister Florence (Bulle Ogier)
  • the constant interruptions of the lunch or dinner meal occurred amidst various encapsulating themes of the decaying European aristocracy, including murder, sex, infidelity, political corruption and drug-dealing, military maneuvers, terrorism, and religion, for example:

    - a misunderstanding about the date of the meal
    - the unexpected death in a nearby inn of a restaurant manager/owner in a curtained-room adjacent to the dining room, where he was mourned over during a vigil
    - the host and hostess, the Senechals, having sex in the upstairs bedroom and then in the adjacent garden
    - the arrival of a large crowd of French army officers on maneuvers who joined them for drinks and dinner

    - the transformation of a dining room into a theatrical stage behind a curtain, where the diners became actors in a play in front of a live audience, with a prompter whispering lines of dialogue to Henri who complained: "I don't know my lines" as the crowd whistled and booed them
    - the arrival of French gangsters, who mowed down the dining group with machine guns; Rafael woke up from this bad dream, and raided food from the refrigerator

  • the scene in a fancy teahouse cafe (with an orchestra, including a cellist) where the trio of women (Simone, Florence, and Alice) were dining, and listening to a cavalry lieutenant's macabre confessional story (with flashback) about murdering his stepfather with poisoned milk - and then, the waiter announced that they were out of beverages: tea and coffee with milk
  • the recurring, intermittent enigmatic image of the group of the six individuals, all dressed for dinner, walking down a long, unending empty country road - most prominently at the film's end before the scrolling credits
Recurring Theme: Dinner Group Walking Down Country Road

Bourgeoisie Guests Attempting to Dine Together

Death of Nearby Inn's Restaurant Manager/Owner

Sex in Garden Between the Hosts: The Senechals

Dining Table Setting on a Stage Set

Teahouse Tea - With No Beverages

French Gangsters With Machine Guns - A Bad Dream


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