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Director:Luis Buñuel
Cast:Sivia Pinal, Francisco Rabal, Fernando Rey
Release Date:1961
Genre:Drama, Foreign

By Bret McCabe | Posted 8/9/2006

Nobody is ever going to accuse Spanish director Luis Buñuel of being devout, but nothing in his oeuvre before or since his 1961 Viridiana quite conveys the director’s scathing contempt for the hypocrisy of the church--and selfish altruism of a self-congratulatory liberal, affluent class and the politics that encourages both along the way. Viridiana (Mexican living legend Silvia Pinal) is a virginal, idealistic nun looking to do good deeds while visiting her uncle (Fernando Rey) to work with Spain’s peasants and homeless. Nevertheless, she’s confronted with ridicule and mockery for trying to help the village poor, and her uncle isn’t helping matters, asking her to wear his dead wife’s clothes before eventually drugging her and insinuating that they slept together while she was intoxicated. But don’t worry, this being Buñuel at the top of his game, there’s suicide, attempted rape, and a beggar orgy culminating in a Last Supper satire scored to Handel’s "Messiah" still to come. Banned by Franco’s Spain and the Vatican when first released--and awarded the Palm d’Or that same year--Viridiana hasn’t lost a smidgen of its humorous, caustic potency.

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