Thursday, March 17, 2011

Viridiana (1961)

This is the fourth Luis Bunuel film I've seen (after Belle de JourDiary of a Chambermaid, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie).  Bunuel is truly one of my favorite film directors; however, this is my least favorite work of his so far even though it won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.  It was also banned in Spain until 1977 and denounced in the Vatican newspaper which naturally would want to make me like it even more, but it is overall unsettling. 

The film is set for the most part in one house and follows the transformation (downfall?) of Viridiana who was about to take her vows to become a nun before particular events change her life.  There are multiple references and reminders to other Bunuel films.  Fernando Rey is back again for one.  He is the main attraction in the Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie 11 years later in 1972.  The odd foot fetish incorporation is here again as well after seeing a similar occurance with Jeanne Moreau back in Diary of a Chambermaid.  Jeanne Moreau was stunning in that film and Silvia Pinal takes over for her in Viridiana as the most gorgeous nun ever.  She makes Julie Andrews's nun in The Sound of Music look plain and common as a comparison. 

The best part of the film is the climactic scene where there is an impromptu 'Last Supper' homage.  It caught me off-guard and then all of a sudden they pose for a picture and BOOM...the last supper.  Genius Mr. Bunuel.  Never seen a Luis Bunuel film before?  Start with Belle de Jour.  If you like that, move on to the Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.  Only take the time for Viridiana if you're a huge Bunuel fan like me.

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