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Viridiana (The Criterion Collection) (1962)

Silvia Pinal , Fernando Rey , Luis Buñuel  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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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, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: May 23, 2006
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000C8Q900
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,904 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Viridiana (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New video interviews with actress Silvia Pinal and Cineaste editor and author Richard Porton
  • Excerpts from a 1964 episode of "Cineastes de notre temps" on Luis Bunuel's early career
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • 28-page booklet with a new essay by author and film historian Michael Wood and an archival interview with Luis Bunuel
  • Trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Banned in Spain and denounced by the Vatican, Luis Bunuel's hilarious 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.

While its so-called "blasphemies" have been tamed by the passage of time, Luis Buñuel's Viridiana remains a masterpiece for the ages. After 22 years in Mexico and the United States, Buñuel returned to his native Spain in 1961 with dictator Franco's permission to make any film he wanted, pending the approval of censors. Inspired by a minor saint named Viridiana and an erotic fantasy about making love to the Queen of Spain after drugging her, Buñuel proceeded to combine these elements into a characteristically provocative scenario about Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), a young woman about to become a nun, who leaves her convent to visit the decaying estate of her uncle, Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), an eccentric widower who's immediately taken with Viridiana's close resemblance to his dead wife. Jaime's aborted attempt to seduce Viridiana (and his subsequent suicide) sets the film's second half in motion, as Viridiana assuages her guilt by turning Don Jaime's estate into a haven for the dispossessed--quite literally a "beggar's banquet" that culminates in one of the most indelible images in all of Buñuel: a staged recreation of da Vinci's "The Last Supper," with a cast of itinerant peasants as "disciples" in Buñuel's new world order--a cutting response to backward notions of progress.

Like any great film, Viridiana reveals its depth and detail through multiple viewings. The film is scathingly critical of Catholic hypocrisy and Franco's Spain (Don Jaime's estate is a direct reflection of the country's moribund state of sociopolitical decay), and its allegorical content was not lost on Spanish authorities, who banned the film (it wasn't shown in Spain until 1977) after it won the coveted Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In a closing stroke of genius, Buñuel skirted around his censors with a final scene even more provocative (in its subtle implications) than the sexually suggestive ending he'd originally filmed. With much to say about the conflicting nature of human desires, Viridiana may have softened over decades, but it's never lost its ability to spark debate, discussion, and rewarding analysis of Buñuel's directorial vision. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD
The newly restored, high-definition digital transfer of Viridiana impressively maintains Criterion's exacting standards of audio-visual quality; it's a flawless transfer, with deep blacks and richly detailed clarity. The supplements include new (2006) video interviews with actress Silvia Pinal and Spanish cultural scholar Richard Porton; warmly revealing excerpts from the 1964 French TV series "Cineastes of Our Times," featuring an interview with Buñuel; and a 30-page booklet with an essay on Viridiana by Princeton film scholar Michael Wood, and a generous interview excerpt from the book Objects of Desire: Conversations with Luis Buñuel. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bunuel dares you to laugh. April 26, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
'Viridiana' begins like a mad Spanish variant on Roger Corman's Poe adaptations. Don Jaime is the Vincent Price-like mad widower (his wife died of heart-attack on their wedding night), haunting his crumbling manor, neglecting his decaying lands, mournfully playing an old piano or listening to Bach and Handel records. At night, by a coffin in which is draped his bride's wedding dress, he wears her shoes and corset. In his past is a shameful story of youthful transgression, and an abandoned, illegitimate son. He invites his niece, Viridana, a dead ringer for his wife, to stay with him for the few days before she takes holy orders. In a fantastic ritual, he asks her to wear the wedding dress and proposes marriage; when she refuses, he drugs her, with the aid of his devoted servant - to whose daughter he gives the skipping rope that takes on an importance from the merely symbolic into the fetishistic and violent - and takes the niece to the bedroom for a necrophiliac rape. Prior to this, he had caught her in one of her sleepwalking trances, throwing her knitting into the fire, and pouring ashes on her uncle's bed. Pure Poe.
Poe was one of the acknowledged precursors of the Surrealists, and in 'Viridiana', Bunuel makes use of two Gothic tropes - the Gothic house/castle/manor is often a figure for the disintegrating mind, but also a metaphor for the nation: Don Jaime's madness, his gentility masking a dangerous egotism, his passion perversely and inwardly directed so that it feeds on itself, his neglect of the land, are all tenets of Franco's Spain, a pinched, gnarled, sterile world in this film.
The Gothic was also the genre in which society could dramatise those anxieties - death, sexual deviance, social disruption - not talked aobut in the middle class public sphere.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrisy exposed May 8, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the best pictures I have seen in my short life of 75 years. The plot is economical and excellent. The direction of Bunuel is outstanding (hardly news that). The plot exposes the hypocrisy of the devout, the fallibilty of human nature, the hopelessness of poverty and the uselessness of instictive philantropy. It would be difficult to make a better picture on the subject. I have seen it many times and I would see it again and again. Bunuel had to smuggle it out of Spain while Franco was ruling it but Franco loved it too... He would watch it in private...
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "That Obscure Object of Desire meets Nazarin" October 22, 2006
By Galina
*** 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.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The reluctant masterpiece of Luis Buñuel! March 5, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
To make such genial film you need not only the natural gift, but besides the moral conviction and the necessary force to push against all the odds this brutally eloquent portrait of the last consequences involved when you decide to be in straight line according the holly precept of a concrete theologic virtue: the charity.

Just think in the historic moment the film was made. Buñuel was essentially an anti establishment artist , and his political posture is well known and one of his primary concerns consisted in proving that we are not in the best of the possible worlds and this statement scopes the shade of the Totalitarian Regimes in search a better world for the mankind : the search of the total welfare implies necessarily the demolition of the previous Status Quo. And if you watch with absolute coldness and free or passionless, you will feel this invisible slap in the face of the most devoted believers the human happiness can be stated. The literal mess when the alcohol make his late effects in the middle of this humble crowd , slowly and progressively goes showing the ugliness of the feelings behind the mask of good manners, creating a real atmosphere of claustrophobia and horror in the worst sense of the word. The sinister parody to the last Supper was immediately rejected by many religious sectors: Once more the forest avoided to watch the real intentions of Buñuel.

This extraordinary, original, powerful and unforgettable film is one the supreme master jewels of the Cinema in any age.

The performance of one of the most beautiful and talented actress in that age: Silvia Pinal as the prodigal nun who really believes in the fact the human still can be redeemable is simply of first rate. And the script deserves simply an everlasting applause. After you watch this merciless picture you will reformulate your inner vision about certain issues you considered out of discussion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Scathing social and political satire
The 1961 Spanish-Mexican film Viridiana is considered by many to be Luis Buñuel's masterpiece. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Film Buff
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic Luis Bunuel film
A tyrannical husband forbade me to go see this with my fellow Spanish graduate students. I'm so glad to have found it after all these years.
Published 1 month ago by Miriam Eldridge
4.0 out of 5 stars Great ending
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... Read more
Published 9 months ago by robert p.
5.0 out of 5 stars Rotten with religion
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... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Luc REYNAERT
1.0 out of 5 stars Could not get this DVD to work on any of my machines!
I could not get this DVD to work on either of my DVD's? A second copy was sent by you and it still did not operate on my DVD's! Read more
Published 22 months ago by Ronald
5.0 out of 5 stars The conflict of desires with the possible....
'Viridiana" (1961) is directed by Luis Bunuel (The Phantom of Liberty). The story is about Viridiana who is a young nun about to take her vows, but who reluctantly goes to visit... Read more
Published on September 6, 2012 by Edmonson
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad Movie
There are three types of movies abroad in the world: Good movies, Ugly movies, and Bad movies. Good movies are the ones most people think of when they choose their favorites --... Read more
Published on January 1, 2012 by Irish Eyes
5.0 out of 5 stars The Poor Say Thank You By Asking for More
Most films that attack the Christian faith take a safer route than "Viridiana". Many films, "Elmer Gantry" for example, attack the clergy. Read more
Published on November 20, 2010 by Dean A. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Viridiana by Luis Buñuel
Even though Viridiana is very controversial because of its harsh attack against the Catholic Church, the film is very artistic and makes a very good point: "Don't expect that God... Read more
Published on December 26, 2009 by Jaime Sanchez
4.0 out of 5 stars A somewhat antirelious classic?
The nun find no good deed goes unpunished when the beggars
that she is trying to help turn on her and her cousin. Read more
Published on October 26, 2009 by Roger Bagula
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