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Viridiana (Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Silvia Pinal, Fernando Rey, Francisco Rabal, José Calvo, Margarita Lozano
  • Directors: Luis Buñuel
  • Writers: Luis Buñuel, Benito Pérez Galdós, Julio Alejandro
  • Producers: Gustavo Alatriste, Pere Portabella, Ricardo Muñoz Suay
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: March 7 2006
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B000C8Q900
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,865 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Banned in Spain and denounced by the Vatican, Luis Buñuel’s irreverent vision of life as a beggar’s banquet is regarded by many as his masterpiece. In it, the young novice Viridiana does her utmost to maintain her Catholic principles, but her lecherous uncle and a motley assemblage of paupers force her to confront the limits of her idealism. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival, this anticlerical free-for-all is as shocking today as ever.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Luis Bunuel has never been too kind to society and its promises of well-being.
Viridiana covers the gamut, and more. Silvia Pinal and Fernando Rey are excellent.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
"That Obscure Object of Desire meets Nazarin" Oct. 22 2006
By Galina - Published on
Format: DVD
*** This comment may contain spoilers ***

The controversial satire was banned by the Spanish government for obscenity and blasphemy after it had received the Golden Palm at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival. Viridiana of the title is a young nun (Mexican actress Silvia Penal) who is assigned by her mother superior to visit her widowed uncle Don Jaime (Fernando Rey) on his farm just before taking her final vows. Viridiana reluctantly agrees to meet with her uncle whom she never knew but who has supported her financially all these years. Don Jaime is obsessed by her cool virginal blond beauty and he sees her as reincarnation of his bride who died thirty years ago on their wedding night. Bunuel gives some of his own sexual fantasies, fetishes, and dreams that he freely admits to Don Jaime thus making him more human. Viridiana winds up as a farm owner along with her uncle's illegitimate son, Jorge (Francisco Rabal, humble and spiritual Nazarin of "Nazarin" here plays absolutely different man). Viridiana, following the great traditions of mad Spaniards, originated by Cervantes and continued by Nazarin, takes seriously great ideas and tries to live accordingly when she attempts to make the farm a heaven for local homeless beggars. Viridiana is a woman of virtue but all her good intentions lead nowhere. I am not surprised that the film was banned and all copies were ordered to be destroyed (Silvia Penal in her interview recalls the dramatic story of two copies of the film that were saved and buried, so they could wait for the better times), I am surprised how Bunuel was able to make this super dark dramedy about the inability of the Catholic Church to deal with the realities of the world at all in his native Spain when Franco was still in power.

Technically, Viridiana is a perfect film, odd and enigmatic behind the seeming simplicity. It's power lays not in the set decorations, stunning locations or the colorful costumes but in a way people interact. When asked what were his ideas behind his films, Bunuel answered, "I have no ideas, it is all instinct".

It took 17 years to bring "Viridiana" home to Spain where it was first shown at the theaters in 1977. It took another 29 years to transfer it to Criterion DVD. Now it is available with several interesting bonus features that include interview with Silvia Penal from 2006, an interview with Richard Norton, the Cineaste editor, and the best one, the parts of the film about Bunuel that was made back in 60th and the man in the documentary is as enigmatic, odd, charming, brilliant, and sinister as his films are.

Highly recommended.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Poor Say Thank You By Asking for More Nov. 20 2010
By Dean A. Anderson - Published on
Format: DVD
Most films that attack the Christian faith take a safer route than "Viridiana". Many films, "Elmer Gantry" for example, attack the clergy. Well, most Christians are more than willing to admit that all have sinned and more than a few scoundrels have abused their roles as evangelists, pastors and priests. Some filmmakers (such as the Pythons when they publicized "The Life of Brian") claim that they have no problem with faith itself, just with "organized religion". But I see very little virtue in the apparent alternative, "chaotic religion."
But "Viridiana", filmed in Spain in 1961 by acclaimed writer/director Luis Buñuel takes a much bolder stand. It attacks Christianity on the grounds that acts of charity and compassion are futile and without worth.
The film tells the story of a young novice (the Silvia Pinal ably plays the title character) who is instructed by her Mother Superior to visit her uncle before she takes her vows. She has up until then had little contact with the uncle who financially supported her.
She obeys and visits her uncle (played by Fernando Rey) at his vast but decaying estate, and finds him to be a man of rather depraved tastes. He tells Viridiana that she reminds him of his late wife and asks the much younger woman to marry him. When she refuses him, he drugs her coffee and takes advantage of her (to an unclear degree.) After this incident, the uncle kills himself because of his guilt.
Viridiana learns she has inherited her uncle's estate, but it is to be shared with her uncle's illegitimate son, Jorge. Like his father, Jorge, is a man who pursues pleasure above all else.
Viridiana decides to open the estate to the poor in the village, inviting the blind, the crippled and the destitute. But they take advantage of her hospitality, staging a party in the house that becomes not just an orgy, but a mockery of the Last Supper.
In one of the film's famed sequences, Jorge is seen trying to perform an act of kindness. He sees a man dragging a dog chained to his wagon. Jorge buys the dog from the man so it will no longer be abused. But they we see another man, another wagon and another dog even more greatly abused. The implication is any act of charity can only change a minute faction of the evil in the world.
The film implies that those who are charitable will be betrayed and abused and no lasting good will come of any of it. Better to "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we will die".
But these charges come as no surprise to anyone who knows Scripture. Jesus acknowledged the futility of ending all need when He said, "The poor you will always have with you" (Mark 14:7.) His entire life is an example of generosity responded to with ingratitude, betrayal and violence.
But He came to save His enemies (Romans 5: 7 - 8). He came in the flesh that first Christmas, knowing that He had come to die. But His viewpoint is bigger than ours. He knew that after the cross would come the resurrection. We can know that acts of compassion are not futile because every gift we give in His name, He receives (Matthew 25:4.)
Though I disagree profoundly with the philosophy of the film, the execution is flawless. It is witty, well written, acted and directed. It will jar you into thought. Perhaps Bunuel's best film ("The Exterminating Angel" is close.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Rotten with religion June 1 2013
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on
Format: DVD
While `Viridiana' contains some well known aspects of L. Buñuel's movies, like fetishism or voyeurism, its main target is, like in `L'Age D'Or', religion and more particularly Catholicism with its gospel of pity and altruism. This gospel is personified in an aspirant-nun, played sublimely by the Mexican actress Silvia Pinal. But, faced with utterly disgraceful behavior on the part of the poor people she wanted to help, she becomes on the tones of Haendel's music an anti-Messiah.

For the Catholic Church this movie is fundamentally a blasphemy, symbolized by its hellish parody of the Last Supper (the picture by Leonardo Da Vinci) with the apostles painted as vile and vicious paupers and beggars.
Another of L. Buñuel's more controversial viewpoints is his misogyny expressed by Don Jaime's illegitimate son, Jorge: `all cats are grey at night'.

With a formidable casting, Silvia Pinal being the jewel of the team, this movie didn't lose even a shadow of its subversive bite at Christian morality.
A must see for all lovers of world cinema.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great ending Jan. 13 2014
By robert p. - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Although I've never been a fan of Bunuel, the description of the story in the ad got me intrigued. It wasn't what I expected to
see, but I'm glad that I stuck to it till the end. The ending has a very erotic twist to it. I didn't care much for the movie but I
loved the ending. Shows not only what a great imagination Bunuel had, but also how cleverly he evaded the Franco sensors.
You'll get this and many other details that make the movie worth watching again, from the commentary track.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Viridiana went where no one had went before May 22 2006
By Fernando - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Buñuel finest. You can learn a lot from this movie. The main character saves a dog from a dog's life, but we see another carriage with a dog in a similar situation nearby. The famous ending, changed due to the censorship in Spain, but at the same time working better. The famous 'last dinner' portrayal that gets the picture taken by the female character (Lola Gaos). And we could go on and on. How the most needed are at the same time ruthless with themselves and others. Don't help others blindly, have your feet on the ground and prepare for a counter reaction. Viridiana is a classic that breaks ground and it has lost nothing to time. This movie is as good as it gets.