Viridiana  [DVD]
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Winner of the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 1961, Bunuel's film is widely regarded as his masterpiece. Viridiana (Silvia Pinal) is a young religious novitiate who visits her last remaining relative, the wealthy Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), before she takes her vows. Don Jaime secretly harbours a desire for Viridiana, based on her striking resemblance to his wife - who died thirty years ago on their wedding night. After making Viridiana wear the original wedding dress he attempts to rape her, but fails and commits suicide in a fit of guilt, leaving his huge estate to Viridiana and his son Jorge (Francisco Rabal). The virtuous Viridiana tries to help the local poor, but her idealistic deeds inevitably backfire. Bunuel's film mocks Spanish Catholism, holding it responsible for many social ills. The film is often remembered for its parody of Leonardo's Last Supper, and was banned in both Spain and Italy.
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Spanish-Mexican motion picture produced by Mexican Gustavo Alatriste. It is loosely based on Halma, a novel by Benito Pérez Galdós. Written by Julio Alejandro and Luis Buñuel.
Cast: Silvia Pinal, Francisco Rabal, Fernando Rey, Margarita Lozano
Editing by Pedro del Rey.
Release date(s) May 1961 (premiere at Cannes, winner of the Palme d'Or), March 1962 (US), October 1963 (Mexico), May 1977 (Spain).
<<<A young novice named Viridiana (Silvia Pinal) is about to take her vows when her uncle, Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), invites her to visit him. He is her only living relative, but she has only met him once and is reluctant to comply. Her Mother Superior pressures her into accepting.
Don Jaime is a recluse, living on a neglected farm with only a couple of servants, Ramona (Margarita Lozano) and Moncho, and Ramona's daughter Rita. When Don Jaime sees his niece, he is struck by her strong resemblance to his deceased wife.
The night before she is to leave, Viridiana, grateful for her uncle's longtime financial support, reluctantly complies with his odd request and puts on his wife's wedding dress. When Ramona informs Viridiana that Don Jaime wants to marry her, she is aghast, and Don Jaime seems to drop the idea. However, Ramona secretly drugs her drink. He carries the unconscious woman to her room with the intention of raping her, but at the last moment decides otherwise.
The next morning, he lies and tells her that he took her virginity, and therefore she cannot go back to her convent. When she is undeterred, he then confesses he lied, leaving her uncertain what happened that night. At the bus stop, the authorities prevent her from leaving. Her uncle has hanged himself, leaving his property to Viridiana and his illegitimate son, Jorge (Francisco Rabal).
Deeply disturbed, Viridiana decides not to return to the convent. Instead, she collects some beggars and installs them in an outbuilding. She devotes herself to the moral education and feeding of this exceedingly motley group. Disgusted, Moncho departs.
Jorge moves into the house with his girlfriend, Lucia, and starts renovating the rundown place. Lucia senses that he, like his father, lusts after Viridiana, and leaves after a while. Jorge then makes a pass at Ramona, who is not unwilling.
When Viridiana and Jorge leave for a couple of days to take care of some business, the paupers break into the house, initially just planning to look around. But, faced with such bounty, things degenerate into a drunken, riotous party, to the strains of Handel's Messiah. Posing for a photo around the table, the beggars resemble the figures in Da Vinci's Last Supper.
The rightful owners return earlier than expected to find the house a shambles. The miscreants excuse themselves one by one and leave. Jorge confronts a beggar, who pulls a knife on him. When the man starts assaulting Viridiana, Jorge tries to rescue her, but another beggar strikes him in the head with a bottle, knocking him out. Viridiana resists being violated long enough for Jorge to regain consciousness. He has been tied up, but manages to bribe one beggar into killing the would-be rapist. The police then arrive to restore order.
Viridiana is a changed woman. The child Rita burns her crown of thorns. Wearing her hair loosely, Viridiana knocks on Jorge's door, but finds Ramona with Jorge in his bedroom. With Ashley Beaumont singing Shimmy Doll on the record player, Jorge tells Viridiana that they were only playing cards, and urges her to join them, stating "Cousin, I knew you would someday shuffle the cards".>>>From wikipedia.
Buñuel had, up to Viridiana, only made one film in Spain - Las Hurdes: Tierra sin pan (Land without bread), a documentary of 30 minutes, in 1933. By 1961, though still under the fascist regime, Spain had started to prosper from tourism, but international political opinion was still relentlessly opposing the regime. As one of many good will signs, it offered its prominent exilee to make a film. Buñuel, after his surrealist double start in France with Salvador Dalí around 1930, was denounced as an atheist, communist, blasphemer and more (all correct) and had spent his life in the US and later, as a filmmaker, in Mexico.
The scenario passed the Board of Censors, but it <<<rejected the original ending of the film, which depicted Virdiana entering her cousin's room and slowly closing the door behind her. Consequently, a new ending was written which turned out to be more suggestive than the first -- since it implied a ménage à trois between Ramona, Jorge, and Viridiana. After the film was completed and sent by the Spanish cinematographic authority to the Cannes Film Festival, and awarded, the government of Francisco Franco tried unsuccessfully to have the film withdrawn and banned its release in Spain. L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, described the film as "blasphemous."
The film was released there in 1977, after Franco's death, when Buñuel was seventy-seven years old. However, the film was acclaimed at Cannes, winning the Palme d'Or. Buñuel later said that "I didn't deliberately set out to be blasphemous, but then Pope John XXIII is a better judge of such things than I am". wikipedia>>> In the sixties, Buñuel started his famous final series of nine films (with Jean-Claude Carrière as script writer) in France and Spain, including Belle de Jour (1967) with Catherine Deneuve, for which he is best known today.
224 - Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961, 90') -Buñuel's coup - 14/2/2013
Viridiana was submitted to the Canne Film Festival where it won the Palm D'Or before being banned in Spain on grounds of blasphemy.
No summary could really do this film justice since the visual impressions and symbols are just as important as the express message portrayed by the events.
Viridiana was the first film Bunuel filmed from exile and (so the story goes) the church was in an uproar and adamant that it be censored. When Franco saw it; although he didn't personally see anything wrong with the film, he ordered all copies destroyed in the interest of appeasing the church. People who appreciate quality film will be grateful that at least one copy survived the mass destruction by being sent to France.
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