DIRECTOR: LUIS BUNUEL
COUNTRY: SPAIN 1961
CINEMATOGRAPHY: JOSE F. AGUAYO
MUSIC: Classical Music used
WRITTEN BY: Bunuel
CAST: Silvia Pinal (Viridiana), Francisco Rabal, (Don Jorge), Fernando Rey (Don Jaime)
SUPER FEATURES: Some amazing images.
Luis Bunuel has always been a spirited story teller, with a very peculiar point of view. What his good friend Salvador Dali did with a canvas, Luis did with a film camera. There is some artsy stuff. There is some human stuff. And the, there is the religious stuff. And then, there is THAT other stuff.
VIRIDIANA, like many of Luis Bunuel's other films, is another piece of work in the long line of films questioning the motives that people have regardless of what they believe in. In some cases, we don't know what the answer is. In most cases, we don't seem to care. This difference is what the film is about. It is also about Viridiana waking up to the fact that there is a world out there, and it does not live entranched in a book, or a set of ideas behind brick walls, disguised as a religious order.
Viridiana is in a convent, and is ready to take on her vows. But an uncle calls in, and she goes to visit him. Don Jaime, is a desperate older man that has been alone since the woman he married died. Don Jaime, makes an attempt to have Viridiana stay with him, but fails. His failure leads him to kill himself. He believes that Viridiana is an exact double of his ex wife. The pictures on the wall support this. Viridiana decides not to return to the convent after this, and turns part of the mansion into a shelter for a few paupers. Don Jaime's son is turning the rest of the place into a farm, and to modernize it some. On a special day, around Christmas, they all leave and the paupers are left alone. They proceed to put together a feast for themselves, and destroy that which they had been given. When Viridiana returns, two of them attempt to rape her. One of the paupers is bought off and does away with the other guy in exchange for money.
The story ends with a card game, between the maid (who is having an affair now with Don Jorge), don Jorge and
Viridiana. the only thing said is that they will be enjoying themselves and start a new life.
A brutal story, with little sentimental feeling for anything, Luis Bunuel tramples on the morals of anything that happens upon his path. Viridiana, has decided to take on the life of Jesus, which she gets condemned for by the Mother Superior. But she overdoes it. Don Jaime's obsession is carried too far, to the extent that he spends some time checking out the clothes of his ex wife. And the paupers can never get over their very fears and hates, and spend much time bickering, and fighting. But there are many contrasts offered. While Viridian leads a prayer, noises are mixed in with all the action of the work being done at the farm. In other words, while there is some spirit, it isn't complete. The rest of the place couldn't careless about the prayers. And innocence also has its failings. The young girl jumps rope early in the film, and we think that don Jaime has an obsession with either feet, or legs. But it is the rope that interests him, eventually. And in the end, the little girl jumps rope right under the tree where don Jaime killed himself. She gets sent away, but returns saying that don Jaime used to like watching her jump rope.
And then there is the last meal that the paupers put together. and probably the main reason why the film won the BEST FILM in Cannes in 1961. Of course, the church went right after it. But it was all said and done.
This film is not an attack of religion, or people. It allows you to make your own choices. But it displays an ugly side, that is funny, weird, and shocking at the same time. Some people just do not change. Don Jorge is the symbol of a new age, and says " .. this is not the middle ages .. " while everyone around him acts like it, including Viridiana.
Outstanding film, that questions your faith, and desire to get things done. Nothing really says it any better, than a carriage moving along with a little dog tied under it, between the wheels. Don Jorge thinks it is sad, and buys off the dog, to save him from the plight of being tied and pushed along. And as soon as don Jorge turns his back with his new dog, another carriage goes in the opposite direction with another dog in the same position. It is never noticed by anyone else. And the statement is clear that we are in it for ideas as long as it suits our needs. After that, these thoughts don't mean a thing. This is what Luis Bunuel was about. Questioning the depth of your own faith and moral fibre.
Few film makers have the guts to do and say what this man has done in his life with his many films. Be prepared for an experience, that will leave you thinking.
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