name = Viridiana
caption = Viridiana poster
Julio Alejandro Luis Buñuel
Silvia Pinal Francisco Rabal Fernando Rey Margarita Lozano
music = Gustavo Pittaluga
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Georg Friedrich Handel Ludwig van Beethoven
Films Sans Frontières
released = flagicon|France May, 1961 (premiere at Cannes)
19 March, 1962
10 October, 1963
23 May, 1977
runtime = 90 min.
language = Spanish
Palme d'Or, Cannes Film Festival| imdb_id = 0055601
amg_id = 1:52870
Along with "
The Long Absence", "Viridiana" was the winner of the Palme d'Orat the 1961 Cannes Film Festival, but it was banned in Spainfor sixteen years, due to the condemnation (as "blasphemous") issued by the Vatican.
The film focuses on a young novitiate about to take her vows named Viridiana (
Silvia Pinal), who is told by her Mother Superior that she should visit her uncle, Don Jaime ( Fernando Rey), her only living relative. After some time on his large country estate, he tries to seduce her, believing that she resembles his deceased wife. Hearing of his desire to marry her, Viridiana attempts to flee the house immediately, but is subdued by Jaime and drugged with the help of his servant Ramona. He takes her to her room and considers raping her in her sleep, but decides otherwise.
The next morning he tells her that he took her
virginity, and says that therefore she cannot return to her convent. By this means he intends to make her wish to stay, but instead she is disgusted and starts to pack. He tries to rectify the situation by telling her that he lied, hoping it would convince her to stay, but this does little to appease her. He asks for her forgiveness, but she ignores him and leaves the house. She is on the way back to the convent when the authorities stop her, telling her something terrible has happened. Back at the house, her uncle has hanged himself.
Viridiana collects the village paupers, returns to the estate, and installs them in an outbuilding. Shunning the convent, she instead devotes herself to the moral education and feeding of this exceedingly motley group. Meanwhile, Don Jaime's son, Jorge (
Francisco Rabal), moves into the house with his girlfriend, Lucia. He, like his father, lusts after Viridiana, who scorns him.
A model of moral rectitude, Viridiana will soon suffer for her good deeds. When they all leave to visit a lawyer in the town, the paupers break into the house, initially just planning to look around. But, faced with such bounty, things degenerate into a drunken, riotous orgy --all to the strains of
Handel's Messiah. Posing for a photo (sans camera) around the table, the beggars resemble Da Vinci's Last Supper. This scene, in particular, earned the film the Vatican's opprobrium.
The members of the household return earlier than expected to find the house in shambles. As Jorge and Viridiana walk around the house in shock, the beggars excuse themselves and leave without explaining their behaviour. Jorge continues to inspect the house upstairs and encounters a beggar who pulls a knife on Jorge. Another beggar comes from behind and breaks a bottle over Jorge's head, knocking him out. When Viridiana arrives, she sees Jorge on the floor and runs to his side, but is then overpowered by the two beggars. Viridiana would surely have been raped except that Jorge, who is tied up, bribes one beggar to kill the other.
Viridiana is a changed woman as the film concludes: her crown of thorns is symbolically burnt. Wearing her hair loosely, she knocks on Jorge's door, but finds Ramona, with Jorge in his bedroom. With "Shake Your Cares Away" on the record player, Jorge tells Viridiana that they were only playing cards, and urges her to join them, a conclusion that is often seen as implying a "
ménage à trois".
Silvia Pinalas Viridiana
Fernando Reyas Don Jaime
Francisco Rabalas Jorge
Margarita Lozanoas Ramona
*Victoria Zinny as Lucía
Teresa Rabalas Rita
Lola Gaosas a beggar-woman
"Viridiana" was the first feature film Buñuel ever made in his native Spain. After the film was completed and sent by the Spanish cinematographic authority to the Cannes Film Festival, and awarded, the government of
Francisco Francotried unsuccessfully to have the film withdrawn, due to the harsh condemnation that the film received, as "blasphemous", from the Vatican official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, and banned its release in Spain. The film was only released there in 1977, when Bunuel was seventy-seven years old. [http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=332&eid=475§ion=essay]
However the film was acclaimed at Cannes, winning the Palme D'Or. Buñuel himself said that "I didn’t deliberately set out to be blasphemous, but then
Pope John XXIIIis a better judge of such things than I am." [http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=332&eid=475§ion=essay]
But not all critics were in awe of it.
Bosley Crowther, the contemporaneous " New York Times" film reviewer, said:
"The theme is that well-intended charity can often be badly misplaced by innocent, pious people. Therefore, beware of charity. That is the obvious moral that forms in this grim and tumorous tale of a beautiful young religious novice who gets into an unholy mess when she gives up her holy calling to try to atone for a wrong she has done. [...] It is an ugly, depressing view of life. And, to be frank about it, it is a little old-fashioned, too. His format is strangely literary; his symbols are obvious and blunt, such as the revulsion of the girl toward milking or the display of a penknife built into a crucifix. And there is something just a bit corny about having his bums doing their bacchanalian dance to the thunder of the "Hallelujah Chorus." [http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9E04E6DE1239E43BBC4851DFB5668389679EDE&partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes]
The film was released by the
Criterion Collectionin USA, and on the Directors Suite label in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment.
* [http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=332&eid=475§ion=essay&page=1 Criterion Collection essay by Michael Wood]
tied with "
The Long Absence"
La dolce vita"
O Pagador de Promessas"
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Look at other dictionaries:
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