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68 Viridiana 
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Post Re: 68 Viridiana
Luis Buñuel returns to Spain, into Franco territory, in the disturbing and spectacular Fuck You, God/Spain/Franco/Modernism/Catholicism/Ashes/Bees epic of million-dolla vileness that is Viridiana. The title has shifted down to #73 on the Greatest Films list since this section of the forum was created.

What it must have been like to come back home into Franco territory! Buñuel had been living abroad prior to the release of this film and, upon returning home, found home to be something other than what he'd left. This winds up as a major theme in Viridiana (many exchanges involve characters expressing concerns that others will be alone, they'll end up alone, they shouldn't be left alone and other's shouldn't be left alone with responsibilities they're not equipped to handle) and it's the thing that crowds into all of the nausea of attempted rapes, burning crowns of thorn, child endangerment, suicide, idolatry... no wonder this was banned for close to 20 years in Buñuel's fatherland.

Viridiana concerns the titular nun-in-waiting leaving her convent to visit, upon the demand of her Mother Superior, her uncle that has played benefactor to Viridiana's religious training. Upon arriving at Uncle Jaime's home, which he claims "is like a convent" and so is in fact a parallel move for the future nun, she's witness to everything that God had warned her about: wanton sexuality, abuse of privelage, waste and just about every violation of the easily identifiable commandments. It's not too far a leap to think that, in some combinatorial fashion, the one's that fade into the tablets are getting their share of custard spurted upon them.

Uncle Jaime takes notice that Viridiana, pure as the driven snow and played with some kind of brilliant restraint by Silvia Pinal, looks just like the woman he married. This invisible wife, as fits a film that will take great pains to horrify just about everyone and frequently toys with all kinds of permanent blindness, died on the very day she married Jaime. Jaime, never one to deny himself the opportunity to scrawl some obscenity upon those Moses-hugged stones, has a few simple desires that Viridiana can satisfy: untapped vagina, wife replacement, company and repair to his family. He hasn't seen his son in some time and, if Viridiana would be so kind as to marry him, order and meaning can be restored.

Buñuel was a critic, in virtually all of his major films, of organized religion and what appears to be his conception of what traditional storytelling offers the audience. Viridiana is the film he made upon Franco's invitation to return home and make anything he wanted. This is the movie he made?! He could have gotten himself killed if he hadn't left home right after this one was in the proverbial can. And it went right into another proverbial can when the authorities caught sight of what the guy had done.

On that organized religion: Viridiana lays it out without any mystery as to what Buñuel believed. One scene, late in the film, stages an impromptu/accidental recreation of The Last Summer as celebrated by deviant paupers, lepers, drunkards and violence. But this isn't the only instance of clear mockery of what Catholics have to offer the world: Virdiana is drugged, fondled by her uncle some 60 minutes of screen time before a leper and thief attempt to rape her. What's more is that the heroine decides, with a few tears, to finalize her descent into normal life by having intercourse with her cousin and his new lady friend... and that's how Buñuel ends things.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Jaime makes his smiling exit from the narrative with the help of a jump-rope and sturdy tree branch in a suicide meant to set into motion the destruction of Virdiana's faith and "purity". I use the infamous finger quotes (in less satisfying 12-pt type) because her purity is really just a matter of debate. She allows herself the luxury, under some pathetic protest, of dressing Aunt's wedding dress to entertain her Uncle's proposition to marry her. She says no, gets drugged, wakes up and finally makes her first and only attempt to return to the convent after she's lied to about losing her virginity and then set straight by another theme that Buñuel peppers throughout the narrative: lying and (in the hilarious word of Nancy Sinatra) truthing. It all comes down to a decision but, really, one shouldn't lie... .

And on that traditional storytelling: marquee star and apparent lead Fernando Rey, as Uncle Jaime, makes his suicidal (remember: smiling as he plans his exit) leap with some two acts to go. The shift in narrative from bizarre carnal horror film (cow udders as penises... dear lord) to bizarre classical narrative is among the weirder/more welcome surprises of the past 2 years of filmmaking. Because once Jaime is out of the film he never returns, is replaced by his long-lost son come to set the affairs of the estate in order, and hangs over nothing in the story. Well. Except that it all goes according to his plan and, since he's dead he's blind and blindness is a theme as is absence and as is coercion.

The majority of the film is dedicated to Viridiana's attempt to shelter and improve the lives of a lot of vagrants and, for the majority of the final act, to disappear from the story as her holy tribe tear apart the home of her Uncle and benefactor-in-now-everything. She believes she's good, that she can be of use, and Buñuel sees this as a form of mental retardation. He also sees it as a bit of a lie: it wouldn't be of any difficulty, she is effectively beseeched by her Mother Superior, to return to the convent but Virdiana chooses to buy into her uncle's prop about home being the biggest and best convent of them all.

I thought the movie was incredible not only for it's hideous sexual frankness but because, again in the Top 100, we've got another example of a filmmaker spitting on Realism in order to tell a story that just isn't told like this any longer. There's a neat facade of looseness but the movie, with it's careful shots of all the major characters getting dwarfed by nature and natural laws, is a huge deception in action. Because it's not a story about a charitable nun-in-the-wings meeting her destruction but the unlikely tale of a dead man, violator of God's 10 Rules For Clean Living, and his rise to Godliness through making his exit when the getting out was best. Déjà vu... L'Avventura had something to say on this very subject and that too was among the best films I've seen since joining the forum.

Robert Holloway said the film was a 6/10 and saw the movie as something "that I know is good for me, but did not really enjoy the experience." The movie I saw was the second 10/10 for the month (a few weeks after Au Revoir Les Enfants) and the second time I've seen something alive and wholly provocative (although for different reasons) that failed to engage at least a few forumgoers. Virdiniana isn't maybe everyone's cup of tea but in terms of film but, as mighty challenges to the status quo go, it joins the ranks of L'Avventura, Teorema and Persona as those movies that are perhaps light in heart on the surface but just as high-impact as any tearjerker.


Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:30 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
Oh man... I just read through that and realized I got the fucking title wrong throughout most of the damn thing! I'm going to leave it as is as concrete evidence that one should always proof-read their long submissions as well as evidence of my general idiocy when I get all serious. HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! I feel like a jackass. The content is what's important, I guess... let's hope so.


Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:43 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
majoraphasia wrote:
Oh man... I just read through that and realized I got the fucking title wrong throughout most of the damn thing! I'm going to leave it as is as concrete evidence that one should always proof-read their long submissions as well as evidence of my general idiocy when I get all serious. HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! I feel like a jackass. The content is what's important, I guess... let's hope so.


The content is indeed what is important. This, I believe, is one of the better things you've contributed to the forum. I read the entire thing and went from not knowing anything at all to desperately wanting to see this movie all in the space of a few paragraphs. That's the measure of a really good review.

In regards to the title: You've correctly called it "Viridiana" more often than you erred. Truth be told, I did not even notice until I read your second post.


Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:51 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
ed_metal_head wrote:
majoraphasia wrote:
Oh man... I just read through that and realized I got the fucking title wrong throughout most of the damn thing! I'm going to leave it as is as concrete evidence that one should always proof-read their long submissions as well as evidence of my general idiocy when I get all serious. HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! I feel like a jackass. The content is what's important, I guess... let's hope so.


The content is indeed what is important. This, I believe, is one of the better things you've contributed to the forum. I read the entire thing and went from not knowing anything at all to desperately wanting to see this movie all in the space of a few paragraphs. That's the measure of a really good review.

In regards to the title: You've correctly called it "Viridiana" more often than you erred. Truth be told, I did not even notice until I read your second post.


Thank you, Ed. It was written extemporaneously and that always helps. The movie should appeal to those of The White Ribbon school of filmmaking and a few others.

I kept saying to myself "verdant" as I wrote the thing and that lead to my mishandling the movie title toward the end. I meant to work in some commentary on the title meaning "green" but never actually did... maybe if some discussion pops up there could be some further mention.


Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:02 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
majoraphasia wrote:
I kept saying to myself "verdant" as I wrote the thing and that lead to my mishandling the movie title toward the end. I meant to work in some commentary on the title meaning "green" but never actually did... maybe if some discussion pops up there could be some further mention.


I'm still trying to figure out whether you referred to Viridiana as the "titular nun" by accident. I think that you knew what you were doing. Now don't ruin it for me...


Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:36 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
Boy, I wish I had more to add on the subject because you did such a smashing job with that post. Two years from that one time I saw this film and loved it, I confess that the only two things that stuck with me are the images and the blasphemy. The images don't need much more talking about than you gave them; they never overwhelm the film, but add up to so much of its cumulative effect that I can see some moments and scenes as if I were watching them now. The film very much, in an abstract sort of way, speaks for itself, and is so muscularly constructed I almost wonder if one would need sound to understand what was going on.

But no matter; the sound is there, and it makes all the blasphemy so much funner. And fun it is; in both of the Bunuel films I've seen the one thing that really sticks out, perfect control of images aside, is how gleeful he seems to be rubbing his bare ass all over the status quo. As you said there's no doubt about what Bunuel believes here, the mystery comes in all the different ways he gets to show it. The biggest credit I can offer to Viridiana, then, is that despite what would've appeared to be hysterical anti-religion mongering in other hands it's as smart, insightful, and even-headed a film as one can find. This is something I can't say about L'Age D'Or, and the contrast between the two makes as good a case for the helpfulness a linear plot (no matter how strangely told) can offer a film. Viridiana is a smart, snarling beast, ready to rip apart the fundamentals of organized religion in uncountable numbers of ways. L'Age D'Or might be snarling too, but it's all sorts of obnoxious about its snippy atheism when it isn't being revolutionary. Though I doubt Mr. Kunz would like this particular film, were I to be defending his position that plot helps keep a filmmaker focused, Viridiana would be my first piece of evidence. Sometimes its the difference between a smart ass and a smart ass with something real to say.


Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:08 am
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
Zeppelin wrote:
Boy, I wish I had more to add on the subject because you did such a smashing job with that post. Two years from that one time I saw this film and loved it, I confess that the only two things that stuck with me are the images and the blasphemy. The images don't need much more talking about than you gave them; they never overwhelm the film, but add up to so much of its cumulative effect that I can see some moments and scenes as if I were watching them now. The film very much, in an abstract sort of way, speaks for itself, and is so muscularly constructed I almost wonder if one would need sound to understand what was going on.

But no matter; the sound is there, and it makes all the blasphemy so much funner. And fun it is; in both of the Bunuel films I've seen the one thing that really sticks out, perfect control of images aside, is how gleeful he seems to be rubbing his bare ass all over the status quo. As you said there's no doubt about what Bunuel believes here, the mystery comes in all the different ways he gets to show it. The biggest credit I can offer to Viridiana, then, is that despite what would've appeared to be hysterical anti-religion mongering in other hands it's as smart, insightful, and even-headed a film as one can find. This is something I can't say about L'Age D'Or, and the contrast between the two makes as good a case for the helpfulness a linear plot (no matter how strangely told) can offer a film. Viridiana is a smart, snarling beast, ready to rip apart the fundamentals of organized religion in uncountable numbers of ways. L'Age D'Or might be snarling too, but it's all sorts of obnoxious about its snippy atheism when it isn't being revolutionary. Though I doubt Mr. Kunz would like this particular film, were I to be defending his position that plot helps keep a filmmaker focused, Viridiana would be my first piece of evidence. Sometimes its the difference between a smart ass and a smart ass with something real to say.


MAN! I wish I had found the phrase "muscularly constructed" because that's just perfect. It is one lean movie that, despite the fact that it travels all over the map in search of the next great offense, never wastes a minute to take out the hooks.

This is the second time today I've used the term offensive and it really applies to Viridiana. Movies like Enter the Void and Hostel make moves against the audience but Viridiana is carefree and cheerfully brutal. What a nasty film; there's something to be said for subtlety but there's also something to say about getting punched in the throat. You're more likely to remember the throat-punch than the quiet line.


Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:27 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
I saw this the other night and liked it quite a bit. Unfortunately I didn't appreciate it as much as majoraphasia did. I did like it a lot more than Rob Holloway so I can't take anyone's side. Just like Switzerland.

Mark makes the point that Viridiana is very offensive. He's right. I wasn't offended but I wasn't a target. The film takes aim at Christians (Catholics, mostly) and those foolish "saints" who feel they can change the world and unloads both barrels at them.

However, given the subject material you'd think that Viridiana is very explicit. It isn't. The picture doesn't show most of the events that occur. Instead, it strongly hints at those events.

There aren't really too many sympathetic characters either. Buñuel paints Viridiana's attempts to change people as incredibly foolish. That theme is present mostly after the tonal shift and is best expressed without Viridiana even being there. My favourite touch was actually her "cousin" (he wasn't, really) buying a dog in order to save him from running under a carriage. He thinks he's done a good deed but he doesn't even notice another dog/carriage combo right next to him. "Helping is useless" Buñuel seems to say.

"The Last Supper" re-creation (I actually googled "The Last Summer" wondering if I'd missed something) is really Buñuel's final slap to the face of...everyone. Recreating it with vagabonds and lepers offends the Church but it also serves to break Viridiana. She has sacrificed and shown them gratitude and they've abused that with the very first chance they've gotten.

This was my first Buñuel picture and I'd like to see more. Apparently he was quite the surrealist and Viridiana may not be the best example of his work. It's a really good picture though.


Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:56 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
ed_metal_head wrote:
I saw this the other night and liked it quite a bit. Unfortunately I didn't appreciate it as much as majoraphasia did. I did like it a lot more than Rob Holloway so I can't take anyone's side. Just like Switzerland.

Mark makes the point that Viridiana is very offensive. He's right. I wasn't offended but I wasn't a target. The film takes aim at Christians (Catholics, mostly) and those foolish "saints" who feel they can change the world and unloads both barrels at them.

However, given the subject material you'd think that Viridiana is very explicit. It isn't. The picture doesn't show most of the events that occur. Instead, it strongly hints at those events.

There aren't really too many sympathetic characters either. Buñuel paints Viridiana's attempts to change people as incredibly foolish. That theme is present mostly after the tonal shift and is best expressed without Viridiana even being there. My favourite touch was actually her "cousin" (he wasn't, really) buying a dog in order to save him from running under a carriage. He thinks he's done a good deed but he doesn't even notice another dog/carriage combo right next to him. "Helping is useless" Buñuel seems to say.

"The Last Supper" re-creation (I actually googled "The Last Summer" wondering if I'd missed something) is really Buñuel's final slap to the face of...everyone. Recreating it with vagabonds and lepers offends the Church but it also serves to break Viridiana. She has sacrificed and shown them gratitude and they've abused that with the very first chance they've gotten.

This was my first Buñuel picture and I'd like to see more. Apparently he was quite the surrealist and Viridiana may not be the best example of his work. It's a really good picture though.


For now I say: wrong. I'll have more to say tomorrow. EDIT THIS, me.


Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:33 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
Good! I look forward to hearing how wrong I was in your "Last Edited By" post.


Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:33 pm
Post Re: 68 Viridiana
majoraphasia wrote:
For now I say: wrong. I'll have more to say tomorrow. EDIT THIS, me.


Now that I've watched this you should surely edit it Major :D


Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:51 am
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Post Re: 68 Viridiana
Just watched Viridiana. It was nice to find that the forum has had some good thoughts on it already.

As I've been going through the best movies list, I try not to read anything about the films before I see them. This was my first Bunuel film. In the beginning, it seemed very straight forward cool-headed; so when the uncle drugs Viridiana and almost rapes her, it is a bit jarring.

I would say that if there was a hero of the story, it would be Jorge. He is a man of action and gets everything he wants while Viridiana stumbles around with misplaced generosity and optimism. This really appealed to the cynic in me.

There isn't much to say about this movie that you guys haven't already touched upon, but what I thought was interesting was the end of majoraphasia's post:

majoraphasia wrote:
Robert Holloway said the film was a 6/10 and saw the movie as something "that I know is good for me, but did not really enjoy the experience." The movie I saw was the second 10/10 for the month (a few weeks after Au Revoir Les Enfants) and the second time I've seen something alive and wholly provocative (although for different reasons) that failed to engage at least a few forumgoers. Virdiniana isn't maybe everyone's cup of tea but in terms of film but, as mighty challenges to the status quo go, it joins the ranks of L'Avventura, Teorema and Persona as those movies that are perhaps light in heart on the surface but just as high-impact as any tearjerker.


You certainly like movies with ambiguity, don't you? L'Avventura, Persona... It doesn't get more ambiguous than that. What interested me was that you are grouping Viridiana with these films. Personally, I thought that it was pretty direct.

Overall, I really enjoyed the no-nonsense film making employed in Viridiana. Every scene had a purpose and was interesting. There was no pondering and nothing was there just for atmosphere. Perhaps this is because I saw Greed right before this and it was nice to watch a movie that was under 4 hours long.

3.5/4


Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:03 pm
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