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Lya Lys





MGM, 1930.  Directed by Luis Bu˝uel.  Camera:  Albert Duverger.  With Lya Lys, Gaston Modot, Max Ernst.

In this surrealist French film, A man and a woman are passionately in love with one another, but their attempts to consummate that passion are constantly thwarted, by their families, the Church and bourgeois society.

At least sixty years ahead of its time, the film is a collection of surreal scenes, and it satirizes every social value possible.  It revels in anything considered by the aristocrats to be vulgar was made with a delicious sense for black comedy, a taste for which would not become socially acceptable for sixty years.  This movie caused riots on its first release in 1930, and was banned for forty years.  Think of it as Salvador Dali and Luis Bu˝uel sticking their tongues out at the things everyone else takes seriously, and then laughing at their offended reactions.

The scene in the photo of Lya Lys on our site occurs when she and her boyfriend are kissing.  Suddenly, he sees the foot of a statue behind her and is distracted by its beauty―he is especially mesmerized by its foot.  She pulls away and tries to talk to him, but he holds his hand up to her face as if to say, "Hang on―just give me a minute."  Moments later, he is called away; left on her own, mourning the momentary separation from her lustful partner, she begins sucking on the toes of the statue, as she were sucking on the fingers of her love a few moments before.  The camera cuts to a close-up of the statue's face, as if to check its reaction.

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