Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Viridiana (Luis Buñuel)

Obsession and repression.

My dear readers, I am back (Well, let's just pretend that I do have some deeply-devoted few) and kicking again after some months of art film deprivation. Nevertheless, with my personal cinematic drive seemingly back in its groove (hopefully), I am then here to review and share my thoughts about "Viridiana", a film that marks my return, after the slightly numbing Academy Awards season and the draining toll inflicted by the academe, to the ever-loving cradle of what I really care about the most: world cinema. And to add a certain side idea, it's in fact the Lenten season, so my viewing of "Viridiana" is not at all random but is, in fact, of certain religious relevance, albeit a slightly irreverent one (I'm planning to rewatch "Life of Brian" within this week, by the way). 
Like majority of Luis Buñuel's creations, "Viridiana" is a comedic attack on Christianity and the bourgeoisie, but unlike his later, entirely elitist-lampooning satires like "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and "The Phantom of Liberty", "Viridiana" was also able to have enough time to examine the utterly savage tendencies of the unfortunate ones (in simple yet sad terms, 'paupers') when given enough wings to flap away from their plights. And although they were shown in the film as a genuinely sympathetic lot, Buñuel has also characterized them with a sort of fragile loyalty towards the proverbial hands that feed them, which makes the whole 'pity' thing towards them more weirdly elevated yet at the same time increasingly discomforting. 
Honestly speaking, although Buñuel, for me, is certainly one of the boldest filmmakers there ever was, I always thought that the satirical nature of his films are always steeped in utter partiality (sans "Los Olvidados, of course); that is to say that he always solely attacks the populace of high society, and we love him for it. But surprisingly, "Viridiana" is a deeply refreshing exception. 
Although the film itself is a dominantly psychosexual meditation on emotional repression that's centered mainly on the characters of Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), the melancholic widower, and Viridiana (the luminous Silvia Pinal), the soon-to-be consecrated nun, it was still able to successfully pass as a deliciously unnerving social satire that's centered upon the utterly self-destructive nature of altruism. In this regard, I am of course talking about Viridiana's unconditional assistance of the beggars (she has brought them to his Uncle Jaime's house after an unexpected tragedy), which has, sadly, backfired for the worse. Buñuel, in this film, is not much a surrealist but more of a highly-fevered and imagery-conscious social commentator who knows who to poke with his patented 'dig' (tickling but painful) in the ribs. The perennially humorless Catholic Church, which has officially denounced the film, has proven to be such an easy target. But ultimately, what is "Viridiana" really all about? 
In a way, like Buñuel's later, more fetishistic "Belle de Jour", it is about the pains of sexual repression. But what makes "Viridiana" different is how it has tackled such an issue in a way that subtly pinpoints religious hypocrisy as the culprit as to why it pervades existence. Yet in the end, the film still has enough discoursing power left to highlight the fact that an attempt at carnality still isn't the answer. And in an ending that is both dark and innuendo-laden, it is slightly suggested that sex, in such a context, is nothing but a savage trap; a superficial card game; a painful punch line. Such is the sad, sad comedy of existence, as seen through the camera lens of the very bold Luis Buñuel.

 photo 52.png

No comments:

Post a Comment

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Ivan6655321's iCheckMovies.com Schneider 1001 movies widget