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 beggars by taking them in, but her altruism is greeted with ridicule and cruelty. True to form, Buñuel's clear-eyed wit is relentless in its depiction of human selfishness, ingratitude and cynicism.
Viridiana includes one of Buñuel's most memorably disturbing, funny and brutal scenes. It is the extraordinary final beggars' orgy: a black parody of the Last Supper performed to the ethereal strains of Handel's Messiah. True to form, Buñuel's clear-eyed wit is relentless in its depiction of human selfishness, ingratitude and cynicism. Being his first Spanish production since Las Hurdes (1932) and having just returned from exile in Mexico, Buñuel was given almost complete artistic freedom and, by his usual standard, a big budget to work with. However, due to a tight production schedule, the Spanish authorities who had called for a change to the ending (which Bunuel felt improved the film and made it more subversive) were unable to view the final film before its inclusion as the official Spanish entry at Cannes. The film won the Palme d'Or and made huge profits all over the world, except in Spain where it was banned.