Based on Fermín Solís’s graphic novel of the same name, published by Astiberri Ediciones in 2009, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles explores the particular circumstances surrounding the shooting of Land Without Bread (1933), Luis Buñuel’s third movie.
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles uses Solís’s graphic novel as its starting point, but takes a different approach with the story and art direction.
In a telephone conversation with Cartoon Brew, film director and scriptwriter Salvador Simó explained that the intention of the movie is to introduce the figure of Luis Buñuel to contemporary audiences, and to generate interest in his extraordinary personality and filmography.
The movie follows the Spanish director and his production team to Las Hurdes, the western Spanish region where the documentary is set. During the trip, the movie reveals the complex artistic world of the filmmaker and his odd sense of humor, while exploring aspects of his character and personality, such as a fondness for cross-dressing and causing provocation for its own sake.
Among film buffs Buñuel is considered one of the most influential Spanish directors of the 20th century, thanks to the pivotal role that his silent movies An Andalusian Dog (1929) and The Golden Age (1930) played in the avant-garde Surrealist movement. Land Without Bread brought an end to those experiments as Buñuel began to embrace a more socially conscious and narrative approach, establishing the starting point for some of his career’s more mature feature films.
The iconoclastic filmmaker always maintained a troubled relationship with his native country. In 1949 he renounced his Spanish nationality in favor of Mexico, and only five of Buñuel’s 32 movies are Spanish. However his status as one of Spain’s artistic darlings endured, and he is considered alongside the ill-fated poet and playwright Federico García Lorca and the painter Salvador Dalí as one of the most iconic artists linked to the Spanish cultural movement Generation of 1927.
At that time, the remote region of Las Hurdes was considered so poor that bread was virtually unknown, and taking in orphaned children was a key source of income for its population, due to the government subsidies offered to families that adopted children.
Far from reporting reality however, Buñuel exaggerated the region’s stereotypes, faking many scenes such as the slaughtering of a goat and a sick donkey. While Buñuel’s intention was to highlight and denounce living conditions in Las Hurdes with surrealist imagery, the tremendous uproar it caused led to the movie being banned in the years preceding the Spanish Civil War.
Production of Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles started in October 2016 at The Glow Animation Studio ― based in the same region that Buñuel’s documentary was set ―and is expected to be finished next month. The feature film marks the first collaboration between Salvador Simó and the Spanish producers Manuel Cristóbal and Jose M. Fernández de Vega. Other credits include illustrator and comic artist José Luis Ágreda as art director, and Manolo Galiana as animation director (The Illusionist, Anastasia, Spirit, Chico and Rita).
Cristóbal, who previously produced the comic book adaptation Wrinkles (2011) with Perro Verde Films, will work with Salvador Simó as director again on the animated adaptation of Óscar Pantoja’s graphic novel Gabo – Memoirs Of A Magic Life, which depicts the writing process of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles is expected to hit Spanish screens in fall 2018.