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Distributed for Swan Isle Press

Midday with Buñuel

Memories and Sketches, 1973-1983

Translated by Bryan T. Scoular with a Foreword by James D. Fernández
Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900–83), known for his surrealist themes and unflinching social criticism, was an artist defined by intellectual ambition and controversy. An exile who produced some of his most famous work in Mexico and France during Franco’s dictatorship, he left a complicated imprint on the creative landscape of the twentieth century and on generations of younger filmmakers—including his Mexican friend Claudio Isaac. Drawn from Isaac’s personal papers, Midday with Buñuel: Memories and Sketches, 1973–1983 is an intimate and unconventional portrait of this cinematic icon—and memoir of Isaac’s own artistic development.

The text includes sketches, vignettes, and anecdotes from Isaac’s notebooks, revealing his perspective first as a precocious boy and then as a young man. Isaac reflects on Buñuel’s presence among a community of exiles, artists, actors, writers, and intellectuals in Mexico City. These are at once touching, perceptive, and critical glimpses into Buñuel’s roles as husband and father, friend and colleague, surrealist, philosopher, and iconoclast during his last years. Throughout, Isaac’s words reveal his deep admiration and affection for an older friend full of contradictions. Intimate photographs from the Isaac family archive complement the writing, and Bryan Thomas Scoular’s careful translation makes this text available for the first time in English.

Part biography, part memoir, Midday with Buñuel brings to life the creative milieu of Mexico City and gives readers a privileged view of the relationship between these two filmmakers.

180 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2007

Biography and Letters

Film Studies

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"It’s an honor, indeed I’m glad, to join in giving a warm reception to a book that has given me many delightful moments."—Enrique Vila-Matas, author of Bartleby & Co.

Enrique Vila-Matas | Enrique Vila-Matas

"This is an essential book to discover the more intimate Buñuel. The view of a young Claudio Isaac, with photographs and sketches illustrating his memories, provides us exceptional insight into those human and hidden aspects beyond the public persona of this brilliant film director."—Javier Espada, director, Fundación Centro Buñuel de Calanda

Javier Espada | Javier Espada

“In a series of vignettes, dialogues, and journal entries, Claudio Isaac gives us a fascinating glimpse of Buñuel and his wife Jeanne Rucar and their friendship with a young man—fifty-seven years younger—who is making his way in the world of Mexican cinema. It is a vivid, memorable portrait. Affectionately, Isaac deals with Buñuel’s contradictions—his dogmatism and tenderness, his love and his contempt for cinema, his shyness and his exhibitionism—and his struggle against thoughtless ‘deification.”

Christopher Maurer | Christopher Maurer

"I was both charmed and moved by Midday with Buñuel, Mexican filmmaker and writer Claudio Isaac's personal and very poetic recollection of his friendship with his mentor, the Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel."

C. M. Mayo

“Just when Buñuel experts thought everything had been told about the Spanish surrealist auteur comes Midday with Buñuel: Memories and Sketches, 1973–1983, a new collection of anecdotes and remembrances by Claudio Isaac. . . . Isaac’s recollections of his very personal and enriching friendship with Buñuel are peppered with a variety of unpublished photographs, many of which transport the reader to another era. . . . His memories of the director fill a void in the historical record, for they become the first memories of a young Isaac, engaging with the elder surrealist for the better part of two decades in a teacher-student relationship about film, culture, obsessions, and ultimately life. . . .The English edition has been wonderfully illustrated and masterfully cared for by Swan Isle Press.”

Gerardo T. Cummings Rendón | Hecho Teatral

Table of Contents

Foreward  xi
For Further Reading  xiv
Translator’s Note  xv
Acknowledgments  xvii

Prologue  3
The First Thing  4
The Entomologist  5
A Day in the Countryside  7
A Banquet  10
Jeanne  11
Luis  12
The Bar  13
Luis and my Father  15
Luis and my Mother  17
The Two Luises  19
Husbands and Wives  21
Sulphates  22
Competition  23
Two Letters  25
None of You Understand  28
The Son of a Civil Servant  29
Reading my Screenplay  30
Tears  31
Poem  33
Cardinal Virtue  34
Hearing and Not Hearing  36
Lip Reading  37
Vignette  38
Something about Me  39
Julio Alejandro  44
A Test  46
His Friend  47
Tell Your Mother Hello for Me  49
Kid  50
A Portrait  51
Titles  52
Frankly  53
Blush  54
Commonplace  56
Correcting and Inventing  57
Tango  58
The Second Castle  59
Authors  60
The Director and His Actors  61
With the President  62
Followers  64
Sons  65
Logic  67
Books  68
Condemnable, Condemnable  69
León  71
Antecedents  72
A Pair of Pugilists  73
Gazpacho  74
Informal Address  75
Point of View  76
The Alcorizas  78
Father Julián  82
Janet  84
To Speak Clearly but Not Very Loudly  85
Cloister  86
What They Left Us  87
The Two Halves  88
Close-Ups  91
Interview  93
Before Eating  94
Two Actresses, One Role  95
A Great Beard  96
Sculptor  97
Sculptor, Philosopher, or Filmmaker  98
In the Bookstore  100
Joyce  101
Hotel Room  102
My Notebooks  103
I Saw Him Dancing  108
Authority  110
With Paz  111
Voices  114
A Retreat  116
Jeanne’s Book  118
Rustic  120
Discrepancy  122
Don’t Kneel  124
Milton and His Daughters  125
Etymologies  126
The Man without Company  128
One More Drink  129
His Support  131
The Lowest Expression  132
Alchemist  134
Winter  136
Two Hallucinations  139
Price List  140
Between These Walls  141
Eternal (July 29, 1983)  142
To Luis Buñuel, on the Day of His Death  143
Legacy  144
What Did I Give Him?  145
December 28, 1990  146
April 3, 1993  147
Disarrangements  148
To Stay  149
Dream  150
Illustration Credits  153
About the Author  154

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