Our April CERA program will feature Illusion Travels by Streetcar, a 1953 Mexican film directed by Luis Buñuel. It tells the story of a Mexico City streetcar conductor and motorman, who, learning that their old car #133 is about to be scrapped (replaced by a PCC), sneak the car out for one last joy ride that gets out of control. They pick up various interesting characters along the way, all the while refusing to collect fares. Then, they have to sneak the car back into the yard without getting caught.
Illusion Travels by Streetcar is a charming film, and one not seen in the United States until 1977. Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) was a world-famous director best known for such films as Un Chien Andalou, L’Age d’Or, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and That Obscure Object of Desire. Six of his films were included in Sight & Sound‘s 2012 critic’s poll of the top 250 films of all time. Buñuel made his reputation as a surrealist, in league with Salvador Dali, but while there are a few surrealistic touches in the film, there is nothing that detracts from telling a good story.
This film was commissioned by the Mexico City streetcar system itself, in an attempt to improve their image, after a bad accident the year before. However, characteristically, Buñuel makes the officials of the streetcar company the villains, and the working man the hero.
David Sadowski will introduce the 82-minute film, which is in Spanish with English subtitles, and Ray DeGroote will round out the program by showing some of his slides taken in Mexico City in the mid-1950s.
Friday, April 26, 2013
1900 hrs / 7:00pm
525 S State St, Chicago, IL
Admission is free.
PS- Interestingly, a few years after this movie was made, Mexico City considered buying some postwar Chicago PCCs, but they would not fit due to clearance problems. As a result, car 4391 was saved locally and can be enjoyed today at the Illinois Railway Museum.