Short Reflections from the Silver Screen: Viridiana



Spain. 1961. Luis Bunuel.

Bunuel is the master satirist and fetishist of the cinema, here he exercises these mischievous facets within the confinements of a sardonic black comedy that pulls immorality and elegance under the same umbrella.

Viridiana, a righteous nun, goes to visit her uncle out of charity for he hasn’t seen her in years. He is immediately transfixed and in love with the woman who looks somewhat identical to his late wife; he even begs her to wear her deceased wedding dress for a perverted re-enactment. Viridiana sticks to her senses and things don’t turn out well for the sad, old and lonely uncle; his scandals turn out to be dark and unforgiving for his ego.

Viridiana goes on to perform the works of mercy, but to little avail; she houses the local beggars who override their warranty and pay it off with a mighty quarrel. Bunuel unearths true nature in his characters. The argument can be made that no man is truly evil; they simply behave as they have been taught by the world; all Bunuel’s characters brace this lesson of life.

The world is a vicious cycle and this is shown no clearer than in the scene where a man frees a dog who is tied to the axle of a moving cart; yet as soon as he turns his back, a cart going in the other direction also has an innocent dog tied to it. This is a rather depressive conception that even those who do act out of decency and care leave no mark, for the world continues to turn its evil wheel.


*All reflections are from my film journal.


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