Director Luis Buñuel’s first film back in his native Spain after three decades away focuses on Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), a young novice nun full of idealistic illusions who is taken advantage of by her widowed uncle, Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), and his son Jorge (Francisco Rabal).
She is plagued with guilt, so she brings a clutch of local beggars into their home to make amends.
For this 1961 classic, Buñuel handles his searing attack on Catholicism with clarity, incision and a dark sense of humour in one of his masterworks, close to his absolute best form.
This award-winning, first-class European art movie is to be relished and enjoyed for its very considerable wit and intelligence.
It was voted Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1961 as winner of the Palme d’Or (shared with The Long Absence [Une aussi longue absence]). But it was immediately banned in Spain (till 1977) and condemned by the Vatican.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 4882
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