The Milky Way

Released in France during the revolutionary uproar of 1968, Luis Buñuel's film takes the form of a religious parable—two pilgrims come across a range of figures from the history of Catholicism, including the devil and the Virgin Mary, as they make their way across the countryside. Buñuel is fascinated with the twists and turns of Catholic doctrine as only a fallen Catholic can be, and he constructs a series of elegant, witty paradoxes that parody theological argument while holding fast to its methods. Still, the revue format—the episodes don't really connect with each other—seems to diminish Buñuel's power to create a convincing parallel world (much as it would in the later Phantom of Liberty); the film misses the sense of inner logic and cohesion that informs his masterworks. A bit of a poor relation among the magnificent films of Buñuel's late period, but rarely shown and well worth seeing. With Michel Piccoli, Alain Cuny, Laurent Terzieff, Delphine Seyrig, Julien Bertheau, and Pierre Clementi. In French with subtitles. 105 min.

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