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Viridiana (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on April 12, 2013

The most fun you can have with rape, incest, suicide, murder, crossdressing, foot fetishism, cruelty, vandalism, and violence.  And of course, blasphemy blasphemy blasphemy.  It’s blasphematastic.  Buñuel skewers Christianity and the Catholic Church every which way, from a crucifix switchblade to casually tossing a crown of thorns on the fire to the infamous “Last Supper” image.

But for all the irreverence on display, Viridiana is not the butt of the joke because of her faith.  She’s the butt of the joke for self-righteously believing she can make a difference in this world.  You can’t change people, no matter how noble your intentions (Jorge rescuing a mistreated dog, oblivious to another dog in the same situation trotting past) or how selfish (Don Jaime trying to transform his niece into his wife).  Imposing your will — or your piety — on others will only lead to frustration, disappointment and betrayal.  It’s only experience that changes people, as Viridiana is changed by her experiences.

It’s a cynical worldview, though not done presented in the spirit of meanness.  Buñuel has some affection and sympathy for these characters, even though some of them commit base acts.  He’s amused by their failings, as are we.  The film doesn’t judge or condemn… people are what they are, what their experiences in life have led them to be.

The movie has so many brilliant moments.  The aforementioned scenes, the various corruptions of Rita’s jumprope, the cat pouncing on the rat after Jorge seduces Ramona, the wonderful double entendre of the “cleaned up” ending.  Silvia Pinal is not great but certainly good in the title role, and Fernando Rey does the dirty old aristocrat thing that he does so well.  And the cast of beggars is a joy.  Also it’s one of Buñuel’s most visually impressive works.  Rating: Great (90)


3 Responses to “Viridiana (rewatch)”

  1. Great review. Interesting that you say the film does not condemn since Bunuel always subtly does so. Haven’t seen a Bunuel flick in a while so will be sure to check this one out.

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