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Simon of the Desert [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1965]

  • SKU: 9216804
  • Release Date: 02/10/2009
  • Rating: NR
Financing troubles prevented Luis Bunuel from filing out his witty and venomous religious satire Simon des Desierto (aka Simon Of The Desert) to full feature length, but at forty-five minutes it's almost perfectly balanced and the Criterion Collection have finally made Bunuel's final Mexican film available on DVD in the United States. Simon Of The Desert has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and has been slightly window-boxed so the full picture will be more readily seen on conventional monitors. The transfer is good enough to reveal a few minor streaks and tonal shifts in the original elements, but it's also taken from a spotlessly clean print and Gabriel Figueroa's camerawork is much better served here than in the muddy-looking VHS editions of this film available in the Eighties. The audio ha been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono and the fidelity is quite good for a film from the period. The dialogue is in Spanish, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options included. In addition to Bunuel's original short subject, this edition also includes A Mexican Bunuel, a fine documentary by Emilio Maille on the great filmmaker's years in the Mexican film industry, and an interview with actress Silvia Pinal, who recalls working with Bunuel and her role as the devil's emissary. Criterion has also included a handsome booklet with this disc, featuring an essay on Simon Of The Desert from Michael Wood, excerpts from interviews with Bunuel in which he talks about the film, and plenty of stills from the picture. Given its length, Simon Of The Desert hasn't enjoyed an especially distinguished history on home video, but this release from Criterion helps make up for that, and this minor masterpiece has rarely if ever looked this good in any format.

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    Ratings & Reviews

    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (1 out of 1)

    Special Features

    • A Mexican Buñuel (1997),a 56 minute documentary by Emilio Maillé
    • New interview with actress Silvia Pinal
    • A Booklet featuring a new essay by critic Michael Wood and a 1970s interview with Luis Buñuel


    Simon del Desierto
    Forty minutes is more than enough screen time for Spanish director Luis Buñuel to state his case in Simon of the Desert. Claudio Brook portrays fifth-century Christian Simon (later St. Simon Stylites) who dispenses religious sagacity while standing on a tall column in the middle of the desert. Typical of Buñuel's hatred of the Church, the Devil (Silvia Pinal) is a far more entertaining and articulate spokesperson for his point of view than Simon is for Christianity. An abrupt, ill-suited ending suggests that Buñuel either tired of the subject and wanted to move on to other things, or that he ran out of money and had to wrap before the process servers showed up. This Mexican film was originally titled Simon del Desierto. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Claudio Brook
      Claudio Brook - Simon
    • Silvia Pinal
      Silvia Pinal - The Devil
    • Hortensia Santovena
      Hortensia Santovena - The Mother
    • Image coming soon
      Enrique Alvarez Felix - Brother Matias

    Customer rating

    Rating 5 out of 5 stars with 1 review

    would recommend to a friend
    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Fantastic Film!

      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® MemberMember

      Amazing surreal film about one mans faith and temptation while fasting atop a pillar in the desert

      I would recommend this to a friend

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.