Free Essay

Land Without Bread

In: Business and Management

Submitted By andrew101
Words 1384
Pages 6
Land Without Bread by Luis Bunuel
There are numerous ethnographic surrealist films that have an intriguing relationship to aesthetics and politics. A film that exemplifies this relationship is “Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan” (Land Without Bread). This film is only 27-minutes and is directed by the infamous Luis Bunuel in 1933. Bunuel was a Spanish filmmaker of the 1920’s to the 1970’s. He is often attributed to being one of the major contributors to the surrealist movement of the 1920’s. “Ethnographic surrealism is a utopian construct, a statement at once about past and future possibilities for cultural analysis.”(Clifford, 119) ‘Land Without Bread’ has a clear connection between politics and aesthetics. It uses many techniques, specifically the narrator and soundtrack, in order to enhance the ostensible political meaning of the film as well as link it to the ethnographic surrealist movement. Many ethnographic surrealist artists turned their attention to the problem of representing otherness. “Bunuel identified what he saw as a Surrealist tendency to “use” bourgeois society’s ‘other’s’ to negate the cultural status quo while never giving these others their due”(Lastra, 55). Land Without Bread is considered one of the earliest forms of ethnographic surrealism.
Fatimah Rony describes Ethnographic cinema as “above all a cinema of the body: the focus is on the anatomy and gestures of the indigenous person, and on the body of the land they inhabit”(Rony, 111). While many film scholars describe “Land Without Bread” as a documentary, Land Without Bread is in fact an early parody of the barely invented genre of documentary filmmaking. One of the original ethnographic filmmakers, Robert Flaherty, stated, “One often has to distort a thing to catch its true spirit”(Rony, 103). It is apparent that Land Without Bread was a major catalyst in the creation of documentary and ethnographic filmmaking.
The film centers on the mountains Las Hurdes region of Spain and the intense poverty that its occupants encounter. The opening sequence of the film introduces and defines the genre ("a filmed essay in human geography") and the setting ("a sterile and inhospitable area" in Spain). The expedition begins in Alberca with the watching of a "strange and barbaric ceremony." Once the people of the town are "drunk with wine," the expedition continues to an uninhibited monastery. Afterwards, we move on to the first village of Las Hurdes, where numerous young girls eat bread dipped in the water of a small stream. At the local school, "starving" children study geometry and educational moral lessons. Arriving in another village, the expedition meets a "choir of idiots" and then finds a young girl ill in the street. Land Without Bread then surveys the Hurdanos' diet of potatoes, beans, pork, and honey. The scene where a goat falls off a mountain and a donkey is covered and killed by bees is staged unbeknownst to the viewer. A short-lived essay on mosquitoes and malaria leads into a portion on illness and dwarfism, caused "by hunger, by lack of hygiene, and by incest.". As the camera pans across some graves marked with crosses, we hear that, "despite the great misery of the Hurdanos, their moral and religious ideas are the same as in other parts of the world." We tour a "luxurious" church before visiting the inside of a Hurdano home. As the family prepares for bed, an elderly woman walks the darkened streets, chanting of death. The expedition abruptly ends.
It is evident that there is a strong relationship between the films aesthetics and politics. During the time when Las Hurdes was being filmed (1933), there was political uncertainty and upheaval, with a new constitution being made in 1931 and an election that saw the very right win come to power in 1933. The film immediately generated controversy in Spain where “it was banned first by the Republican government and later by the fascists” (Lastra, 52). It was banned to due its forward condemnation of church and capital, as well as the “dehumanization and repudiation of its subjects.”(Lastra, 52) It is clear that the film has a strong political theme. Lastra states that “Las Hurdes has been praised as a scathing and straight forward condemnation of church and capital”(Lastra, 52) and that “Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini are blamed directly for the misery depicted in the film.”(Lastra, 54). It is apparent that Bunuel was concerned with showing the squalor of a people ignored by a careless pre-Franco regime. On the most superficial level, the film defines some aspects of life in a mountainous region of Spain. On a second level, it stages a passionate attack against several hegemonic institutions of Western civilization, in particular the Catholic Church, but also the educational system and private property.
Bunuel came to believe that the cultures they represented were worth taking seriously as more than just objects of appropriation. He identified what he saw as a Surrealist tendency to ‘use’ bourgeois society’s ‘others’ to negate the cultural status quo while never giving these others their due (Lastra, 55).
Most significantly, however, Buñuel's work undermines its own dominant systems of representation by gradually undermining its own truth claims. For example, the title of the film is land without bread, however, in a sequence of children playing by the river, you clearly see them eating the bread and dipping it into the water. Given the centrality of bread in the rituals of Catholicism, the title also sounds like another swipe at organized religion.
The film uses several techniques in order to enhance the ostensible political meaning of the film. The most prominent technique is the narration and the soundtrack. Some see Land Without Bread as a social-issue documentary, while others see it as a mock documentary/parody.
Instead of the traditional travel narrative that seeks to integrate and narratavize a heterogeneous set of images, we get parallel threads of exposition, each falsifying the other, casting doubt first on the voice, then on the image. In fact, several of the film’s most troubling occurrences are simply on the sound track, without further proof (Lastra, 60).

The voice-over commentary is deliberately ethnocentric, willfully contradictory, and deceptively humorous. “The image track often contradicts the voice over and vice versa, creating a situation where no single discourse ever fully masters the entirety of the materials”(Lastra, 59). Thus, for example, although on a second viewing the young children going to school appear adequately groomed and healthy, the commentary overpowers our ability to make this judgment, boldly referring to them as "uncombed kids." Furthermore, the narrator proclaims one child as dead when the child looks suspiciously like she is sleeping. Some would consider Land Without Bread as one of the first mockumentary films. “Ethnographic surrealism and surrealist ethnography are utopian constructs; they mock and remix institutional definitions of art and science. To think of surrealism as ethnography is to question the central role of the creative artist”.(Clifford, 147) This quote exemplifies how Bunuel used the soundtrack and narrator in order to make a film about the viewer, his or her preconceptions, expectations, and naive trust towards the artist/filmaker. He demonstrates that the conventions of the documentary form blind us and we have lost the capability to think critically about what we hear and see.
To talk about Land Without Bread as a parody does not mean the film is simply a joke. The film uses ethnographic surrealism to express a “complex process that generates cultural meanings, definitions of self and other.”(Clifford, 146) Land Without Bread offers an example for the future of ethnographic film by laying down the formal rules of documentary and challenging conventional systems of representation. Although it does prey on its viewers' gullibility, turning audience members into "a choir of idiots," it also lays the groundwork for its own destruction. It opens a space for an engaged, critical viewer. For this reason, as much as for its portrayal of terrible poverty in the Spanish countryside in 1932, Land Without Bread is a revolutionary film.

Clifford, James. "On Ethnographic Surrealism." Comparative Studies in Society and History 23.04 (1981): 117-51. Print.

Lastra, James F. "Why Is This Absurd Picture Here?" October 102 89 (1999): 51-68. Print.

Rony, Fatimah Tobing. "Taxidermy and Romantic Ethnography." Duke University Press, 1996. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

David Ricardo & the Comarative and Absolute Advantage

...following fourteen years—his last ones—as a professional economist. Ricardo first gained notice among economists over the “bullion controversy.” In 1809 he wrote that England’s inflation was the result of the Bank of England’s propensity to issue excess banknotes. In short, Ricardo was an early believer in the quantity theory of money, or what is known today as monetarism. In his Essay on the Influence of a Low Price of Corn on the Profits of Stock (1815), Ricardo articulated what came to be known as the law of diminishing marginal returns. One of the most famous laws of economics, it holds that as more and more resources are combined in production with a fixed resource—for example, as more labor and machinery are used on a fixed amount of land—the additions to output will diminish. Ricardo also opposed the protectionist Corn Laws, which restricted imports of wheat. In arguing for free trade, Ricardo formulated the idea of comparative costs, today called comparative advantage—a very subtle idea that is the main basis for most economists’ belief in free trade today. The idea is this: a country that trades for products it can get at lower cost from another country is better off than if it had made the products at home. Say, for example, Poorland can produce one bottle of wine with five hours of labor and one loaf...

Words: 1159 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Roma and Correl

...submitted to the presiding officer before the candidate leaves the examination room. Candidates writing the examination electronically must keep the Instruction Sheet to Electronic Exam Writers, which provides instructions for uploading their responses following the examination. Only the following models of calculators are authorized for use on the Case Examination: 1. Texas Instruments 2. Hewlett Packard 3. Sharp TI BA II Plus (including the professional model) HP 10bII+ (or HP 10bll) EL-738C (or EL-738) v) © 2014 The Society of Management Accountants of Canada. All rights reserved. ®/™ Registered Trade-Marks/Trade-Marks are owned by The Society of Management Accountants of Canada. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form without the permission of the copyright holder. Additional Information Practice Case Examination – M3A5 RomaCorral Foods Ltd. (RCFL) Additional Information Update As a result of the economic recession that began at the end of 2010, Canadian consumers continued to reduce...

Words: 3070 - Pages: 13

Free Essay

The Jewish Holy Days Passover

...the Jews were ordered to seek Pilgrimage in Temple in Jerusalem (Ex. 23:14). It was marked by the last known plague to hit the Egyptians which was the death of their first-born sons. The Passover would take place during these periods: The Passover Starts at Sundown Pesach - Hebrew Calendar Date Sun, Apr. 17, 2011 Mon, 14 Nisan 5771 Thu, Apr. 5, 2012 Fri, 14 Nisan 5772 Sun, Mar. 24, 2013 Mon, 14 Nisan 5773 Sun, Apr. 13, 2014 Mon, 14 Nisan 5774 Thu, Apr. 2, 2015 Fri, 14 Nisan 5775 Thu, Apr. 21, 2016 Fri, 14 Nisan 5776 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the Lord by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work (Leviticus 23:5–8). It is a celebration of freedom for the Jews from Egypt. It was freedom from years of being oppressed and the brutal, enslavement and treatment by Pharaoh of Egypt. Passover celebrates the emancipation of Jews and the birth of their own nation. One important piece of history that has been told to many generations is how...

Words: 837 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

The French Revolution

...causes. Political, social, and economic conditions in France contributed to the discontent felt by many French people-especially those of the third estate. The ideas of the intellectuals of the Enlightenment brought new views to government and society. The American Revolution also influenced the coming of the French Revolution. The Philosophes planted the seeds for the French Revolution. Their goals were to expose and destroy the inequalities of the ancient regime (old order). The political discontent of France was one of the causes of the Revolution. In the 17th and 18th centuries, France was ruled by an absolute government. The king had all the political powers. Anyone who criticized the government could be arrested and put in prison without trial. Louis XVI was king at the time of the French Revolution. He was more interested in hunting than governing France. He and his Austrian queen, Marie Antoinette, lived an extravagant life at the Palace of Versailles. They did not really care about the state of their country. The excerpt from the cahiers mentioned in document 3 shows that the votes in the assembly were not taken by head. The people of the 3rd estate felt a sense of betrayal when the king supported the block voting over the head voting. The first two estates worked together to outvote the large third estate to keep them from becoming a threat to the power. Lord Acton, an Englishmen, states that the monarchy being overthrown wasn't the spark of the Revolution. He......

Words: 1173 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Ratios Management

...have gathered. The Bolsheviks were majorily the proletariat(poor people). They were tired of the Great War. They wanted out. They were tired of insufficient food. They were unhappy with the nobility owning the majority of the land. The Great War was eating up resources that Russia was having difficulty coming up with. Transportation was frequently down or very ify for the civilians because of the war effort. The troops needed food, and the men who farmed were many of at war. Food resources were often pushed to straining point. Heating was often just above freezing even for the middle class. You need fuel for heat. Troops need fuel for planes, trains, cars, etc. Living conditions were still poor despite reforms in the 1905 revolution. The military was suffering badly in the last decade or so. This was in the Russo-Japanese War which killed 400,000 Russian troops. Czar Nicholas was loosing support. The people were growing more and more restless. No heat, little food, upset military means ideal conditions for revolution. The Czar and a bit lower down were still being somewhat brutal which was a bad tactic. The military was transitioning to the proletariat's side. The majority party for the people were the Bolsheviks. The people's cry was "Peace! Land! Bread!". The Bolsheviks were the majority. They wanted a socialist state. The mensheviks were moderates who wanted a constitutional monarchy with a figurehead king. The Bolsheviks didn't fully win until 1920 after a civil war. The......

Words: 476 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

How Far Do You Agree That Lenin’s Leadership Was the Main Reason for Why the Bolsheviks Were Able to Seize Power in 1917.

... the home front and most importantly Trotsky role all played a significant role to why the Bolsheviks were successful. Lenin’s leadership played a significant role to why the Bolsheviks were able to seize power in 1917 due to his clear and persuading aims. Lenin was an influential figure in the eyes of the proletariat. Due to the April thesis clear aims resulted in that he was able to gain greater support and he succeeded in having 200,000 members. The vast amount of members meant that the Bolsheviks had greater support when it came to seizing power. The main aims of the April theses were, Peace, Land and Bread and power to the soviets. Many supported the idea of Peace, Land and bread as they were fed up with the affect the war was having on them and wanted to bring it to an end, people were also starving due to the war and therefore welcomed the idea of Peace, Land and bread. Lenin also promised the confiscation of landed estates from landowners and the aristocracy. The slogan all power to the soviets played on the feelings of the proletariat that the provisional government were made up of landowners and middle class men who would not look out for their interests and if they would give all the power to the soviets their interests would be recognised and dealt with. The slogan gained the Bolsheviks more power. Lenin also realised that the timing of the seizure was very important and that it was...

Words: 1325 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Israel's Freedom

...Israel said, 'Let My people go, that they may serve me." Pharaoh did not believe in the God of the Israelites, and he refused to let the Jewish slaves go free. When Pharaoh continued to refuse to liberate the children of Israel, Moses and Aaron warned him that God would punish both him and his people with plagues. According to the book of Exodus, when Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt, God brought a series of devastating “plagues” upon the people of the Nile. The plagues were intended to be a “smiting blow” of judgment against the “gods” of Egypt, as well as “signs” or “wonders” of divine intervention. Each of the plagues was designed to neutralize confidence in the false deities of Egypt. Egypt was a land of thousands of gods, and the Israelite people were not unaffected by the idolatry of these polytheists. This is reflected in the worship of a golden calf at...

Words: 1443 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

French Revolution

...causes of the Revolution. In the 17th and 18th centuries, France was ruled by an absolute government. The king had all the political powers. Anyone who criticized the government could be arrested and put in prison without trial. Louis XVI was king at the time of the French Revolution. He was more interested in hunting than governing France. He and his Austrian queen, Marie Antoinette, lived an extravagant life at the Palace of Versailles. They did not really care about the state of their country. The people of the 3rd estate felt a sense of betrayal when the king supported the block voting over the head voting. The first two estates worked together to outvote the large third estate to keep them from becoming a threat to the power. An Englishmen, states that the monarchy being overthrown wasn't the spark of the Revolution. He recognizes the American Independence as the spark of the French Revolution. The French government was inefficient, unjust and corrupt. There were numerous government departments, different laws in different parts of the country and officials. Many people became livid at the way France was governed. The people couldn't do anything to bring about a change. The French Parlement was called the Estates-General. It had not met since 1614 and couldn't without the consent of the king. It basically had no power. The economic problems created by the French kings also contributed to the Revolution. During this time the French...

Words: 969 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

When the Nile Runs Dry

...Session 9, Case Study 1 When the Nile runs dry 1. What are “land grabs”? How and why are they happening? Land grabbing is the issue of large land transactions; the buying or leasing of large pieces of land in developing countries, by domestic and transnational companies. The lands are mainly used for the production and export of food and biofuels. The reason why countries like Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China or India are acquiring lands is because they need to grow food to feed their own populations. Indeed, these countries already suffer consequently of water scarcity preventing them from being able to grow enough food for their growing populations. 2. How do land acquisition in Ethiopia and Sudan by South Korea and Saudi Arabia affect food security in Egypt? Egypt is a nation of bread eater requiring millions of tons of wheat per year and in addition Egypt is also the world’s leading wheat importer and subsidized bread. Or, in order to have enough bread for the population Egypt’s grain is either imported or produced with the water of the Nile River. The Nile flows through Ethiopia and Sudan before reaching Egypt. However, according to the Nile water agreement; Egypt is entitled to 75% of the Nile’s river flow. Yet, now those developing countries are acquiring a lot of land in Ethiopia and Sudan with the intention to grow food with nil’s river water regardless of the water agreement. It is fear that demand of water reaches a point where there will not be...

Words: 1398 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Bolsheviks Seizure of Power

...The Russian monarch was known as the Tsar, and in 1917 the Tsar was Nicholas II. He believed that God had made him Tsar and that he therefore had absolute authority to rule Russia, without parliament. The Tsar was very naïve to the situation in Russia, as he rarely went outside the grounds of his palaces. The growth of industry meant there was a large working population in the towns, but conditions in the towns were cramped and the workers were badly paid. There was opposition to the Tsar and in 1905 a protest by industrial workers broke out into a revolution. There were other protests and strikes in the years 1905-1914. By 1914 poor working conditions, food shortages and the opposition parties had created a very tense atmosphere in Russia. The First World War broke out in 1914 and patriotism and loyalty to the Tsar were revived, however this didn’t last very long as the Russian people thought the war was going to be victorious and short, but this was not the case. The Russian army was not really a match for the well-equipped Germans as there was a shortage of rifles and other munitions equipment. There were high casualties, which decreased moral in Russia. Food supplies to Russian cities was very poor, as Russia relied so heavily on its railways and they were engrossed with the supply of ammunition and food to the war front, food for the people was left to rot in the sidings because the engines and carriages were simply not there to carry them, so people just starved. Fuel......

Words: 1371 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

This Piece

...What did you learn? Throughout the break I watched Russian Revolution In Color. I learned that Russian society was almost completely destroyed over night. People wanted poverty, crime and privilege class division were to be gotten ride of and a new era of socialism promised peace, prosperity and equalize for all people but, the socialism experiment failed. Millions died and 1/3 of world pop lived in shadow of communism due to the idealistic dream that turned into nightmare, the Socialism experiment. Port of St. Petersburg was an island built to protect Russian from a sea. It is an active navel base. In February 1917 Russia reached its peek. Stock of bread were being rationed. People waited over night but to be given part of a loaf of bread. On February 23 the people crowed onto the streets and protested the lack of bread. The women began their protest first. Afterwards they threw snowballs at the factories where men worked where they soon joined the women in their protest again the lack of break. 100 thousand people went on strike. After the next two days the protest grew larger and larger but on February 25th the soldiers came in to put a stop to the protest. These soldiers were called Cossacks, they were soldiers who were very loyal to the Tsar, they were ordered to shoot protesters if the did not disperse. 50 laid dead but the Tsar failed to end the protest and the protesters carried banners that now read "Freedom or Death." Soon the soldiers grew angry, they exclaim......

Words: 750 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Homefront in Ww1

...Home Front in WW1 Recruitment Volunteers * At beginning army was only small with only 250 000 men, needed 1 mill at least * Germany and enemies armies already bigger * Used propaganda * “pals battalions” large groups encouraged to sign up together as guaranteed to fight together * Half a million signed up In the first month * March 1916-2.5 mill volunteers * Downside * Families and towns lost all men * Questioned their return * Why did they join? * Posters * Get away from dull everyday life * Share in the excitement * Thought it their duty Conscription * Clear war not over by Christmas * Casualties had to be replaced, prepare from battle of the Somme November 1916 and replace thousands of dead after * Volunteers were running out – released harsh truths as people returned injured or not at all * Jan 1916 – unmarried men 18-40 * March 1916 – married men also * 1 in 3 conscripted between 1916 -18 * Meant gov had more control over work forces at home as the not conscripted were skilled workers that stayed to do jobs that couldn’t be replaced and helped the war effort Contentious objectors * Object to war for religious or humanitarian reasons * Had to convince a tribunal if they were genuine or coward * If convinced then they would help on the front line eg drive ambulances or war work at home eg mining * If rejected then sent to army, if......

Words: 945 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Spiritual Food

...Sermon: The Living Bread John 6:35-41 Objects: A Food Pyramid Poster and Flat Bread. Have you ever seen a food pyramid poster?  The food pyramid was developed to help us know what kinds of foods we should eat to help us to grow strong, healthy bodies.  I have one to show you. The picture shows all of the food groups.  There are grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy, meat, and fats and sweets. As you can see, the largest part of the pyramid is foods that we make from grain.  What are some foods we make from grain?  Let's see, there is bread, cereal, muffins, tortillas, and a lot of other good things to eat.  Most of the things we make from grain not only taste good, but they are good for us too.  Bread has always been considered to be one of our most important foods. Even way back in Bible times, bread was very important to life.  Do you remember the time God provided bread for the Israelites when they were starving in the desert?  Every morning God sent bread from heaven for the people to eat.  I'm sure you also remember the time when Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two small fish.  Do you remember when Jesus taught his disciples to pray?  He taught them to say, "Give us this day our daily bread."   (Pass out Flat Bread and have them tear a piece off and eat it) Bread is, and always has been, a very important part of life.  Most places in the world have bread like this Flat Bread.  It is easy to make, but......

Words: 3305 - Pages: 14

Premium Essay

How Successful Were the Bolsheviks in Consolidating Their Power Between 1917 and 1924?

...Bolsheviks when they came to power in 1917. After completing the revolution many of the problems of Tsarist Russia still remained, leaving Lenin and the Bolsheviks to solve the problems swiftly in order to increase their claim to power. The problems of lawlessness, land redistribution, attitude of peasantry, the war, economic problems and issues to do with the Constituent Assembly all had to be resolved. The party also had created new problems when it came to power; these were mainly caused by groups and people not supporting the party. On top of all this, the Bolsheviks had no real plans for their Government, they had no experience of Government, they had expected a world revolution and they had expected the State to just wither away. The Bolsheviks also did not control the whole of Russia. Most of the country was oblivious to the fact that they were in power, the Revolution occurred in towns and cities, not in the countryside where 82% of the population lived. The Bolsheviks also had to contend with threats from other Socialist groups such as the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks. Lenin quickly responded to these initial problems by compromising the Bolshevik principles in order to keep popular support. The land decree was the first act within Russia in its move towards...

Words: 973 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Richard Frethorne Attitude

...Frethorne was probably hoping for a new start in life as a landowner, just like any other indentured servant who was poor. In the process of inheriting their fifty acres of land, the indentured servants from England signed a contract to be a servant for around five years, depending on their age, and earned the land at the end of their contract. It probably seemed like a wonderful deal; work as a servant for some years and end up with plentiful land in a new country. However, for Richard Frethorne, as well as every other indentured servant, he did not anticipate the challenges that faced him. In Virginia, Frethorne faced many challenges, and in his description of these challenges, he discussed his unforeseen unhappiness and misery from his servitude. The biggest...

Words: 657 - Pages: 3