Monday, June 23, 2008

Viridiana (1961)

After 25 years' exile, Luis Buñuel was invited to his native Spain to direct Viridiana -- only to have the Spanish government suppress the film on the grounds of blasphemy and obscenity. Regarded by many as Buñuel's crowning achievement, the film centers on an idealistic young nun named Viridiana (Silvia Pinal). Just before taking her final vows, Viridiana is forced by her mother superior to visit her wealthy uncle Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), who has "selflessly" provided for the girl over the years. She has always considered Don Jaime an unspeakable beast, so she is surprised when he graciously welcomes her into his home. Just as graciously, he sets about to corrupt Viridiana beyond redemption -- all because the girl resembles his late wife. It is always hard to select the most outrageous scene in any Buñuel film; our candidate in Viridiana is the devastating Last Supper tableau consisting of beggars, thieves, and degenerates. As joltingly brilliant today as on its first release, Viridiana won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 91 mins
Viridiana (1961)
Yes basically no good deed goes unpunished, and Viridiana has done lots of good including feeding and caring for the indigent and homeless people she takes in after her uncle commits suicide with a young girls rope. The exact rope he gives the girl earlier in the movie that he helps raise which the daughter of his house maid. The Last Supper and the various actions by the beggars, thieves and degenerates reminds me of the other film: King of Hearts. As both groups decide to make other people's property their own and as their hedonistic desires are fulfilled they act merely as spoiled children and not some enlightened people that were subject to some cruel world.

Corruption is only the part of the story, the desires of both Viridiana's Uncle and Cousin are both incestuous. Ultimately we do not know how the cousins will resolve these issues as the two play cards with the maid in the closing scene.

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