Skip to main content

SIMON OF THE DESERT

Mexico, 1965 (MIFF 2000, The Surreal Feel – 100 Years of Luis Buñuel)

Director: Luis Buñuel

Short, sharp and astounding, this film provides a teasing bridge between the Old Testament Buñuel (Viridiana) and the New (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie). Simon of the Desert concerns a living saint who resides atop a 60-foot pillar large enough only to stand on. Aside from performing miracles to the accolades of his adoring followers, Simon Stylites is also assailed by a series of characters including an epileptic priest, a dwarf goat-herder and his goats, which give rise to some very funny dialogue and some wonderfully surreal imagery.

Throughout the film Simon is presented with numerous temptations by the Devil (in the form of Sylvia Pinal— who plays the title role in Viridiana), culminating in his being brought back to earth, to a modern New York discotheque. The film, shot in the form of a socialist realist documentary, has been described as an incredibly perceptive rendering of the unnaturalness and hypocrisy associated with religious fanaticism and extremism, but Buñuel has put all the interpretations of Simon of the Desert in perspective when he said "Thank God I'm still an atheist".

See also...

THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL

In the best surrealist tradition, the opening credit of The Exterminating Angel warns that "from the standpoint of pure reason there is no explanation" for Buñuel's brilliant, disconcertingly ... More »

VIRIDIANA

Viridiana, a young nun full of charity, kindness and idealistic illusions about humanity, visits her rich uncle on the eve of her ordination. She stays and tries to help some local peasants and ... More »

THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE

This delightful comedy revolves around a group of six chic, upper-middle class men and women who find themselves unable to disentangle themselves from their own thoughts, beliefs, fears, memories and ... More »

L’ÂGE D’OR

"Our sexual desire has to be seen as the product of centuries of repressive and emasculating Catholicism... it is always coloured by the sweet sense of sin," wrote Bunuel in his autobiography My Last ... More »

THE YOUNG ONE

Bunuel used an island off the coast of one of the southern states to make this film about a Negro on the run - a story of innocence and corruption. ... The film's simple plot transcends its one ... More »

LOS OLVIDADOS

Los Olvidados (meaning the forgotten ones) was made in Mexico City slums with mostly non¬professional young actors whose talents lie in their simplicity, their obedience to brilliant direction ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director