Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The

(ot Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie). French/Italian/Spanish movie (1972). Pr Serge Silberman. Dir Luis Buñuel. Screenplay Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière. Starring Stephane Audran (Alice Sénéchal), Julien Bertheau (Monseigneur Dufor), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Henri Sénéchal), Paul Frankeur (François Thévenot), Muni (assassin), Bulle Ogier (Florence), Claude Piéplu (Colonel), Fernando Rey (Raphaël Acosta), Delphine Seyrig (Simone Thévenot). 105 mins. Colour.

Six rich middle-class people endeavour variously to have a meal together, but every time something stops them. It becomes clear that some, at least, of these misadventures are Dreams of one or other cast-member, and the episodes grow more fantastic; there are even dreams within dreams, giving an Arabian-Nightmare tinge to some episodes. Interwoven with the surreal (see Surrealism) events are several Ghost Stories, told in flashback ... And, every now and then, we cut to the six walking along a country road that seems to lead them nowhere, though it can certainly be understood as a vision of the Road of Life.

There are elements of social Satire in TDCOTB, but mostly it is playfully illogical, a random, anarchic collection of plot elements that, together, do not create a meaning. In a way, the movie is a prank: it is the instinct of an audience to search for and theorize about meanings even where there is none: the real butt of Buñuel's satire is thus us and our own aesthetic pretensions. The prank worked perhaps too well: TDCOTB won an Oscar. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.