Land Without Bread

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Las Hurdes
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Produced by Ramón Acín
Luis Buñuel
Written by Luis Buñuel
Rafael Sánchez Ventura
Pierre Unik
Starring Abel Jacquin
Alexandre O'Neill
Music by Darius Milhaud
Johannes Brahms
Cinematography Eli Lotar
Edited by Luis Buñuel
Release date
December 1933
Running time
27 mins
Country Spain
Language French

Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan (1933), (English: Land Without Bread or Unpromised Land) is a 27-minute-long documentary film (ethnofiction) directed by Luis Buñuel and co-produced by Buñuel and Ramón Acin. The narration was written by Buñuel, Rafael Sanchez Ventura, and Pierre Unik, with cinematography by Eli Lotar.


The film focuses on the Las Hurdes region of Spain, the mountainous area around the town of La Alberca, and the intense poverty of its occupants, who were so backwards and isolated that bread was unknown. A main source of income for them was taking in orphan children, for whom they received a government subsidy. Buñuel, who made the film after reading the ethnographic study Las Jurdes: étude de géographie humaine (1927) by Maurice Legendre, took a Surrealist approach to the notion of the anthropological expedition. The result was a travelogue in which the narrator’s extreme (indeed, exaggerated) descriptions of human misery of Las Hurdes contrasts with his flat and uninterested manner.

Buñuel claimed: "I was able to film Las Hurdes thanks to Ramon Acin, an anarchist from Huesca,...who one day at a cafe in Zaragoza told me, 'Luis, if I ever won the lottery, I would put up the money for you to make a film.' He won a hundred thousand pesetas...and gave me twenty thousand to make the film. With four thousand I bought a Fiat; Pierre Unik came, under contract from Vogue to write an article; and Eli Lotar arrived with a camera loaned by Marc Allégret."[1]

The movie is a documentary, parodying the exaggerated documentaries of travelers across the Sahara being filmed at the same time.[2] One of Buñuel's points is that there are plenty of terrible subjects for a documentary right in Spain.

The film was originally silent, though Buñuel himself narrated when it was first shown. A French narration by actor Abel Jacquin was added in Paris in 1935. Buñuel used extracts of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 4 for the music.

Buñuel slaughtered at least two animals to make Las Hurdes. One Hurdano claimed that he arranged for an ailing donkey to be covered with honey so he could film it being stung to death by bees. Similarly, his crew shot a mountain goat that subsequently fell from a cliff for another sequence.[3]

The film provoked such an uproar in Spain - Ruoff calls it a "revolutionary film"[4] - that it was banned[3] from 1933 to 1936.

There is a Spanish-language dubbed version spoken by Francisco Rabal. According to Ruoff, there are two different English-narrated versions.



  1. ^ Jose De La Colina, Tomas Perez Turrent.Objects of Desire - Conversations with Luis Buñuel.Trans. Paul Lenti.Marsilio Publishers, 1992. ISBN 0-941419-68-1.
  2. ^ Ruoff, Jeffrey. An Ethnographic Surrealist Film: Luis Buñuel's Land Without Bread. Visual Anthropology Review 14, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 1998), 45-57
  3. ^ a b McNab, Geoffrey (8 September 2000). "Bunuel and the land that never was". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  4. ^ Ruoff, Jeffrey. An Ethnographic Surrealist Film: Luis Buñuel's Land Without Bread. Visual Anthropology Review 14, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 1998), 45-57

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