68. “Viridiana”, Luis Bunuel (1961)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.



dir. Luis Bunuel scr. Julio Alejandro and Luis Bunuel cin. Jose F. Aguayo with Silvia Pinal, Francisco Rabal, Fernando Rey, Margarita Lozano

In 100 words: The master of satire and irony has fashioned his most brutal takedown of the Franco regime and the Catholic Church in this comically bleak film. Viridiana is like great literature: rich in symbolism and social critique but married to Bunuel’s unique sense of wit, humor and visual grammar. Each scene is incredibly designed—Bunuel doesn’t always reveal his cards upfront, nor is he exactly subtle, but his assured direction ensures that the payoffs land hard. And boy do they sting: his views on the folly of sainthood and charity and the darkness of human nature are dense, insightful, and uncompromising.

Other Movies for Context: Bunuel is one of my absolute favorite directors ever because his work shows tremendous skill in the use of irony and satire. Viridiana feels close in association with Los Olvidados (1951), a fine satire similar in its bleakness to this one. I also see a lot of L’Age d’Or (1932) in this one, only more bitter and cynical. Bunuel will make two more appearances on this list.

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