Sunday, 28 April 2013
One can only be amused at what prompted Spanish dictator Francisco Franco into inviting Luis Bunuel, who had been in exile for over 2 decades in the US and Mexico, to make a film in his homeland, because ironically the movie that he made so severely displeased the conservative Franco regime and outraged the Catholic church that it was immediately banned. A powerful and vitriolic critique of organized religion, Catholicism and Christian traditions of charity, as also a deeply disconcerting peek into the essentially vile and malevolent nature of human beings – irrespective of which class they belong to, this remains one of the greatest works of the polarizing surrealist. The titular Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), a young and ethereally beautiful novitiate, is invited by her wealthy uncle Don Jamie (Fernando Rey) to his baroque mansion just before she is to take her vows. As it turns out, his suave uncle sees the image of his dead wife in her, and plans to consummate with her, one way or the other, using the help of his loyal maid (Margarita Lozano). The second half took a dramatic tonal shift when the young lady, not wanting to be a nun any more, provides shelter to the local poor and outcasts, only to almost get brutalized in the process. The grotesque side of humans was incredibly captured along with the inevitable corruption of purity. Brilliantly shot in expressionistic B/W and enacted by all, it comprised of a number of memorable moments, but the most unforgettable would easily be that of a group of degenerates gleefully impersonating The Last Supper in one of the most iconic freeze frames in the history of the medium.
Director: Luis Bunuel
Genre: Drama/Religious Satire/Black Comedy