Luis Buñuel’s second feature L’âge d’or (Golden Age, 1930), a highly subversive film which was heavily critical of the Church and bourgeoisie, sparked scandal wherever it was premiered. The film was selected by André Breton to accompany his Surrealist exhibition in Tenerife in 1935.
Following the unexpected success of his first feature film Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog, 1929), Buñuel would once again work in collaboration with Dalí to produce a script for his second, L’âge d’or, although the artist’s contributions would ultimately be cast aside. The script was peppered with scenes of gratuitous violence, anticlericalism, sex, and eschatology with which Buñuel sought to provoke “a moral scandal which would involve revolutionising the bad customs of a society in open conflict with nature”. Despite these premises, Buñuel secured funding from two of the biggest patrons of the era, viscount and viscountess Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles.
The first showing of L’âge d’or was at a private screening in the Noailles’ residence in June 1930. Its public premiere would not take place, however, until 30 November of the same year in the Studio 28 cinema in Paris and would only be shown for six days after protests and agitation from far-right groups belonging to the League of Patriots and Anti-Jewish League prompted the French Government to ban it and seize all copies. In the wake of these events, the film was screened privately in London on 2 January 1931 and then in Madrid at the end of the same year in the Palacio de la Prensa and Ernesto Giménez Caballero’s Cineclub.
In 1935, André Breton selected the film to be screened as an epilogue to his Exposición Surrealista (Surrealist Exhibition) in Ateneo in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Scheduled to be shown on Sunday 2 June, and with a film poster designed by Luis Ortiz Rosales, it would never be screened following repeated pressure by reactionary Catholic groups. Its Tenerife premiere, therefore, would not occur until the Popular Front’s victory in the elections of February 1936.