L'Age d'Or | 1930
Luis Buñuel and his co-writer Salvador Dali set out to top the eye-slitting and sexual symbolism of their first collaboration, Un Chien Andalou, with a provocatively incendiary mix of sex, scatology and blasphemy (originally titled La Bête Andalouse).
They succeeded in spades. During the film’s first run, at Studio 28 in Paris, riots broke out, led by an unholy alliance of outraged rightwing Catholics, patriots and anti-Semites. The screen was showered with ink and the foyer exhibition of Surrealist art was destroyed. Nevertheless, more than 60 years on, Cinema Studio 28 (named after the year it opened) is still showing movies, and you can visit it at 10 rue de Tholozé in Montmartre (metro: Blanche or Abesses).
L’Age d’Or itself was immediately banned as incendiary, and remained virtually unshown until the early Seventies.
It’s been claimed that the villa seen in the movie is the home of the Vicomte de Noailles, the wealthy aristocrat who funded many Surrealist projects, but although conceived and written at the Vicomte’s estate, the film was shot mainly in Paris.
Nevertheless, the Villa de Noailles was the centre of the hi-jinks and zany parties with which Dali, Picasso and others tried desperately to shock the bourgeoisie. And Man Ray did shoot one of his surreal films here. You’ll find the Villa de Noailles in Parc St-Bernard, Hyères, in the south of France, on the N96 between Toulon and St Tropez. Built for the Noailles in 1923, and recently restored, there are guided tours around the villa on Friday afternoons from mid-June to mid-September (book in advance from the Tourist Office.
A mixture of silent and sound footage, much of L’Age d’Or is studio-shot. The silent scenes were filmed at the Billancourt Studios, 50 Quai du Pont-du-Jour on the north bank of the Seine in southwest Paris (metro: Billancourt or Marcel Sembat), and the sound sequences at the Studios de la Tobis, Epinay-sur-Seine. Exteriors were also filmed at Montmorency, Seine-et-Oise, and in the 16th Arrondissement.
The striking, Dali-esque landscape of the opening scene is Cabo de Creus (Cap Creus), on the Costa Brava, Cataluña. The rocky outcrop is the tail-end of the Pyrenees, trailing out to form Spain’s most easterly point. The young Salvador Dali holidayed at nearby Cadaques, and in later life lived at Port Lligat, where you can now visit the Salvador Dali House and Museum.