Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simon of the Desert

Directed by: LUIS BUNUEL
1964, TSPDT Rank #967

This is another film that is just criminally low on the list. Luis Bunuel is probably my favorite director of all time, if I didn't mention that before. I once saw his movies described as "delightful provocations," which I think is totally on the mark. Movies that attack things such as religion, government, social conventions, the bourgeoisie, etc. and are extremely wicked entertainment at the same time. Always with a generous helping of the surreal. This one deals with a pious man in Syria in around the 5th century who lived for 8 years, 8 months, and 8 days (I believe that was the number) on top of a tall stone column, attempting to connect with God and acting as a source of guidance and healing for the community. At one point he begins to be tempted by Satan, played by Sylvia Pinal, the heroine of Viridiana, in various ways. Eventually he starts to give into his weaknesses, leading to a bizarre and amazing ending that leaves your head spinning with wonder in typical Bunuel style. The movie is only about 40 minutes long, but is just as effective in its approach as any full-length Bunuel movie. I watched the Criterion DVD but you may even be able to see it online for free. Seek it out, it would work as a good intro to Bunuel's work, if you are ready for the very ironic and savage humor in it.

(Rating: 9/10)

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