So, with Viridiana watched, that leaves me with one single solitary Buñuel film left on the 1001 list to see: Tristana. I guess I will have to save that for the final descent into the finishing line as it would be a bit weird to finish one of the big directors on the list with so many films left to go. Viridiana is the eighth of his nine entries on the list that I have watched. Whilst it doesn’t get to the level of The Exterminating Angel or feature as magnetic as lead as Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, this is certainly a film that has given me pause.
Then again, I don’t think there has been a single Buñuel film that hasn’t given me something to chew on. Even the films of his that I walked away not quite getting – like Los Olvidados – I’m left thinking about it long after the credits roll. It’s like he is the expert in cinematic homework and you are more than glad to take on board.
With Viridiana, Buñuel creates a film devoid of the usual absurdist slant (although the infamous paupers Last Supper scene is getting close) and instead focuses on the topics of piety, religion and charity. At the centre is the titular Viridiana who, before taking her vows as a nun, is ordered by her mother superior to make a visit to her only living relative. This relative turns out to be a non-blood uncle who proposes to her and ends up drugging her with a mind to rape her.
This is all in the first act which ends suddenly in his death and her having to stay behind to manage the property, which results in her piety and charity being taken advantage off and utterly destroyed. I’m not entirely sure, having watched this film, what this therefore makes Buñuel’s stance on charity or piety. The only thing I think can be gleaned with any certainty is a critique of charity for the sake of charity as there are always those who will exploit a person’s generosity or naivety.
I was hoping to get to 800 films before the year was out, but given how close the end of 2019 is it may not happen. Maybe in 2020 I’ll be able to get more than 50 done and thus be on track to finish this list before I turn 35. I can but hope.