Friday, December 23, 2005

SIMON OF THE DESERT (1965) - Luis Bunuel

…or The Last Temptation of a '60s Hep Cat. This 40-some minute Bunuel flick is short on run time but long on Big Ideas. Sin, Redemption, Sacrifice, Penance, Salvation. What exactly it’s saying about them, I’m not so sure.

Bunuel takes the Christ in the desert motif and runs with it, placing a former sinner named Simon atop a Roman arch in the desert and visiting him with various townspeople begging for his healing powers, his benevolence, his ability to turn water into wine and stones into cheese. But this Christ figure is little more than a fool on a very high hill and the townspeople, ungrateful opportunists who just think him batty once their prayers are answered.

This one may not be Bunuel’s masterpiece, but it’s fun to look at and goes down easy at a short length. When the "devil" starts to visit in the guise of a bearded and occasionally bare-chested Sylvia Pinal things get more weird. Watch it as a starter course on all things Bunuel. It’s got his primary themes all wrapped up in a nice, neat little package. And just in time for the holidays.

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