‘Are We Coming to Make a Documentary or a Surrealist Film?’

Demythifying Luis Buñuel’s Tierra sin pan in Fermín Solís’s Buñuel en el laberinto de las tortugas

in European Comic Art

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.