After watching films like Nanook of the North and Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, filmmakers had their own interpretations of what a documentary was. Luis Bunuel added his trademark surrealism in a 27 minute film that mocks well-known documentary techniques. Land Without Bread shows the Spanish region of Las Hurdes that lived in a life of starvation and poverty that they had no basic needs such as even bread!
After watching this short documentary, ethics are called into question on Bunuel’s part. We see the horrible conditions that Las Hurdes are living in where according to Bunuel, they’ve never even heard of bread, babies are dying from malnutrition and disease, and incest is the cause of a breed of “idiots”, “morons” and “dwards” as the narrator points in a deadpan tone. There’s no emotion when the narrator talks about the scary conditions that these people are under. But as you remember, Luis Bunuel is all about the disturbing, surrealist montages that make us want to shut our eyes.
Yeah, I know. Gross! That poor horse is getting stung by thousands of wasps! But is that an accident? Nope! Doesn’t look like Bunuel was a fan of the PETA considering he spread honey all over the horse so the bees would swarm all over him. Not only that but there’s a scene where a goat stumbles down the mountain to his death. Stumbles? I believe pushed considering you see a huge puff of smoke next to it- making you believe the blast of smoke made the goat fall. Do you believe Bunuel went too far? This staging seems similar to another film we saw previously where staging was done to make the film more interesting. When you want to add some pizazz or shocking effects that wouldn’t happen on its own, you blend in some fiction. With scenes like this, you start to question what’s real and what’s not. The truth is that solving the mystery is not the point of this film but to show how situations like this are happening in poorer parts of the world that the bourgeois are blind to. I consider this film to be the first mockumentary in that Bunuel is mocking travelogues with exaggerated dialogue and images found in a nightmare.
Watch this disturbing mockumentary of Las Hurdes and comment what you think: