In 1933 Luis Buñuel shot Tierra sin pan [Land without bread] in the Las Hurdes region of Spain. His ethnographic documentary about this impoverished community is a relentless onslaught of decay and death, and still retains the power to shock. Fermín Solís’s 2008 graphic novel Buñuel en el laberinto de las tortugas [Buñuel in the labyrinth of tortoises] narrates the filming process of this movie. Solís renders the despair underpinning Buñuel’s film ironically, showing this to be in part a result of Buñuel’s doctoring of reality, thus achieving a demythification of this canonical film and questioning its ethical legacy. The mixed mode of comics is fundamental in exposing the irony of Tierra sin pan. Solís’s comic accomplishes this, paradoxically, by foregrounding the mythology of Buñuel the man, encouraging a new, contemporary audience to read the film as a product of Buñuel’s idiosyncrasies and obsessions rather than an unmediated instance of reality.
Marc Ripley is a teaching fellow in Spanish and Latin American studies at the University of Leicester, where he designs and teaches courses on Spanish language and cultural studies modules on Hispanic literary and visual arts. He has published articles on Luis Buñuel’s films in the Hispanic Research Journal and the Bulletin of Spanish Studies and on director Rodrigo Plá. He is currently writing a book on the Mexican cinema of Luis Buñuel, to be published by Wallflower Press. He is also interested in Hispanic horror cinema and is writing an article on foundation myths of nationhood in Jorge Michel Grau’s film Somos lo que hay.