Banned Luis Bunuel Film Viridiana Gets Due Recognition in Spain after 40 years

Viridiana became one of the most controversial films of Luis Bunuel when it was released on 1961. The poignant tale of disillusionment of a beautiful young nun was branded ‘blasphemous’ by the Vatican and the film was banned in Spain by the conservative Catholic dictator, General Francisco Franco. All copies of the film were ordered to be burned. The negative of the film was smuggled out of Spain to Paris. The film eventually won the Palme d’Or at Cannes film festival. After more than 40 years, Malaga Festival of Spanish films paid a tribute to the masterpiece on the 25th death anniversary of Luis Bunuel.

Viridiana is a dark tale of the life of a beautiful young woman who intends to become a nurse but is almost raped and pressurized by her rich uncle to marry him. She is forced to return to her uncle’s estate after he commits suicide. Dejected, she offers shelter to all village paupers in the outhouse and decides to feed and educate them. Her uncle’s son too moves into the house with his girlfriend. He too lusts after her like his father. However, she remains devoted to her mission of taking take of the poor.

Viridiana’s gets totally disillusioned when these groups of beggars enter the house in her absence, get drunk and totally reduce the house to shambles. What earned the ire of Vatican was the shot where this drunken group poses around the table, the scene resembling Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Last Supper.  When Viridiana and her cousin try to intervene they almost get killed. In the final scene Viridiana’s disenchantment with religion is complete and she enters her cousin and his girlfriend’s bed room for a game of cards. Rest is implied symbolically (it seems it was done so to get past the censorship) by showing Viridiana’s burned crown of thorns, her hair let loose and the record playing “Shake Your Cares Away”.

Only Luis Bunuel could depict the loss of hope and faith so realistically. The religious ban on the film only proved his point.

Via The Independent

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