The Milky Way

Movie Information

In Brief: Luis Buñuel’s playfully cheeky comedy about Catholicism finds the iconoclast surrealist and avowed atheist ("I'm still an atheist, thank God") in a surprisingly mellow mood. Oh, the film has its outrages against the Church and clearly finds religion very foolish indeed, but there's no real anger in this one. It's almost something of a romp. The biggest potential problem is that it works on the assumption that the viewer has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Catholicism.
Genre: Surrealist Comedy on Religion
Director: Luis Buñuel
Starring: Paul Frenkeur, Laurent Terzieff, Edith Scob, Bernard Verley
Rated: PG

From the original review: While not the most impenetrable of Luis Buñuel’s films, The Milky Way (1969) may be his most perplexing for first-time Buñuel viewers. The premise is very simple: Two disreputable beggars (Paul Frenkeur and Laurent Terzieff) — who are on a religious pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain — have bizarre encounters and adventures of a twisted, religious nature along the way. That’s really all there is to it. Think of the two men as Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in The Road to Heresy and you’re close to the spirit of the whole thing. Indeed, the two heroes/observers in Buñuel’s film are about as unlikely Christian pilgrims as Crosby and Hope would have been. The point is that Buñuel’s “attack” on Christianity — more specifically, Catholicism — is far less brutal than the one he made 40 years earlier with L’Age d’Or, the ending of which is still shocking even to a crusty agnostic like me. Milky Way is a much more playful film from Buñuel in his best “surrealism can be fun” mode.

Full review here

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present The Milky Way Friday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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