Viridiana

Critics poll
110 th
Directors poll
37 th

Viridiana

Year: 1961 Country: Spain / Mexico
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Featuring Silvia Pinal / Francisco Rabal / Fernando Rey

Introduction

In Luis Buñuel’s controversial masterpiece, a novice nun gets more than she bargains for when she turns her dead uncle’s estate into a home for beggars.

“Viridiana plays like a Mexican melodrama in the style of classic French cinema, but in its churning insides lurks the virulence of the vanguard and the subversion of the Surrealists.”
Rob Stone, Spanish Cinema, 2002

Luis Buñuel returned to Spain from a long period of exile in Mexico to make Viridiana, but the result was banned by Franco’s government and denounced by the Vatican as blasphemous. It’s the story of an unworldly nun, Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), who goes to stay with her lecherous uncle (Fernando Rey), who kills himself after nearly raping her. Viridiana attempts to appease her guilt for his suicide by making his home a sanctuary for vagabonds and cripples. Ever the antagonist of religious piety, Buñuel shows the futility of Viridiana’s self-righteous efforts to tame this unruly mob.

In the film’s most famous scene, a drunken banquet freezes into a tableau resembling Leonardo Da Vinci’s Renaissance masterpiece, The Last Supper. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.

In Jean Renoir’s anarchic satire Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), a tramp causes chaos in the home of the bourgeois bookseller who rescues him from the Seine.