Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buñuel: Viridiana, Part 1

Luis Buñuel's Viridiana (1961) gives us another intense social study that works on several levels. There is plenty of psychology on hand, personal and social. There's also a clear class structure: estate owners (bourgeoisie), estate workers and gendarmes (proletariat) and a gaggle of vagabonds gaming the system (Lumpenproletariat). Viridiana delves into manners, social relations, the idea of legitmacy vs. illigitmacy, and entitlement. Let's not forget the influential role of Catholicism in Spain, which provides the greater backdrop.

Each class has its own additional complexities. Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), estate owner, has invited Viridiana, his niece (Silvia Pinal), to pay him a formal visit from a convent, just as she's on the verge of taking lifetime vows as a nun. Commanded by her Mother Superior to do so out of respect (and because Don Jaime has been paying for her room and board), she reluctantly does so. The plot thickens. Don Jaime is lonely and a bit loony, obsessed because Viridiana resembles his deceased wife. Soon we also learn that he has an "illegitmate" son, Jorge (Francisco Rabal) who will play a role in the unfolding antics. The most interesting character (to me, anyway) is Don Jaime's servant, Ramona (Margarita Lozano -- Sergio Leone fans will recognize her from A Fistful of Dollars, 1964). She's able to navigate between social classes, even while trying to rein in her young rascally daughter Rita (Teresa Rabal).  

Initially banned in Spain and placed in distribution limbo, Viridiana was finally released there in 1977, after the death of the Spanish dictator, Generalísimo y El Caudillo de la Última Cruzada y de la Hispanidad Francisco Franco.

Today's Rune: Protection.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

If you're getting banned for political reasons you're probably doing something right.