Viridiana [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1961]

Arch surrealist Luis Buñuel always enjoyed a succès de scandale, and he rarely created a greater one than 1961's Viridiana, in which he returned to his native Spain for his first film there since Franco took power, and seemingly had a lovely time biting the hand that fed him. Viridiana has never enjoyed the broad circulation it deserves on home video, so any DVD release would be worthy of praise, but The Criterion Collection has (as usual) gone the extra mile to treat this masterpiece with richly earned respect. Viridiana has been transferred to disc in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and has also been enhanced for anamorphic play on widescreen monitors. While there is some noticeable emulsion scratching during the first few minutes of the film, for the most part the source material looks very good, and the transfer is richly detailed (with a lovely palate of grey tones) as well as pin-sharp and brought to disc with a robust bit rate. The audio is mastered in Dolby Digital Mono and sounds nearly as good as the film looks; the dialogue is in Spanish, with optional English-language subtitles. Criterion has typically given this release a healthy portion of relevant bonus material. A profile of Buñuel created for French television in 1964 is included, and boasts interviews with a number of friends and colleagues as well as Buñuel himself, who seems to revel in his persona as a charming iconoclast. An interview with leading lady Silvia Pinal also appears, as does a chat with author Richard Porton, who shares his thoughts on Buñuel's films. An amusingly overstated trailer promoting Viridiana's American release rounds out this package, along with a 30-page booklet which includes an essay by Michael Wood and an interview with Buñuel. Once again, Criterion has given a landmark of European cinema a new lease on life in the North American home-video market, and this DVD is a must for anyone with even a passing interest in Buñuel and his films.
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Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition Digital transfer
  • New video interviews with actress Silvia Pinal and author Richard Porton
  • Excerpts from a 1964 episode of Cinéastes de Notre Temps on Luis Buñuel's early career
  • U.S. theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Plus: A booklet featuring Michael Wood and an interview with Buñuel


After 25 years' exile, Luis Buñuel was invited to his native Spain to direct Viridiana -- only to have the Spanish government suppress the film on the grounds of blasphemy and obscenity. Regarded by many as Buñuel's crowning achievement, the film centers on an idealistic young nun named Viridiana (Silvia Pinal). Just before taking her final vows, Viridiana is forced by her mother superior to visit her wealthy uncle Don Jaime (Fernando Rey), who has "selflessly" provided for the girl over the years. She has always considered Don Jaime an unspeakable beast, so she is surprised when he graciously welcomes her into his home. Just as graciously, he sets about to corrupt Viridiana beyond redemption -- all because the girl resembles his late wife. It is always hard to select the most outrageous scene in any Buñuel film; our candidate in Viridiana is the devastating Last Supper tableau consisting of beggars, thieves, and degenerates. As joltingly brilliant today as on its first release, Viridiana won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Silvia Pinal
    Silvia Pinal - Viridiana
  • Fernando Rey
    Fernando Rey - Don Jaime
  • Francisco Rabal
    Francisco Rabal - Jorge
  • Margarita Lozano
    Margarita Lozano - Ramona
  • Victoria Zinny
    Victoria Zinny - Lucia

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