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 (> 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.