Perhaps the greatest political film made by Buñuel, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a delightfully sharp attack against the bourgeois sensibilities of the time. Oscillating between satirical investigations and nightmarish horror, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is nothing short of a spectacle.
The film chronicles the misadventures of a group of bourgeois friends who try to have a nice dinner but are constantly interrupted by one thing or the other. Buñuel constructs an enigmatic world that does not adhere to the logic of reality and is incredibly alluring for that very reason.
Filming began on 15 May 1972, and lasted for two months with an $800,000 budget. In his usual shooting style, Buñuel shot few takes and often edited the film in camera and during production. Buñuel and Silberman had a long-running and humorous argument as to whether Buñuel took one day or one and a half days to edit his films.
On the advice of Silberman, Buñuel used video playback monitors on the set for the first time in his career, resulting in a vastly different style than any of his previous films, including zooms and travelling shots instead of his usual close-ups and static camera framing. It also resulted in Buñuel’s being more comfortable on set, and in limiting his already minimal direction to technical and physical instructions. This frustrated Cassel, who had never worked with Buñuel before, until Rey explained that this was Buñuel’s usual style and that since they were playing aristocrats their movements and physical appearance were more important than their inner motivation.
Buñuel once joked that whenever he needed an extra scene he simply filmed one of his own dreams. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie includes three of Buñuel’s recurring dreams: a dream of being on stage and forgetting his lines, a dream of meeting his dead cousin in the street and following him into a house full of cobwebs, and a dream of waking up to see his dead parents staring at him.