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Archive for September 20th, 2012

by Ed Howard

Luis Buñuel’s final film of his Mexican period is the short, punchy Simon of the Desert, possibly the great surrealist’s wittiest and funniest film, and certainly his most focused meditation on a subject that interested him throughout his career: the combined folly and nobility of profound religious faith. Certainly, there is no protagonist in Buñuel’s oeuvre who better represents this dialectical representation of religion than the holy fool Simon (Claudio Brook), an ascetic who lives alone in the desert on the top of a pillar, fasting, praying, willfully turning his back on the entirety of the world. When the film opens, he has in essence been rewarded for his solitary suffering: the local priests come to offer Simon a better, taller pillar, donated by a rich man, and Simon accepts. The man who professes to want no worldly things, to have no need for his fellow beings, thinks nothing of taking this gift, a worldly and ornate pillar on which he can make his ascetic offerings to God. Buñuel makes even more of a sly joke of it by having the priests tell him that he’s been standing on this pillar for six years, six months and six days: the Biblical number of the Beast from the Book of Revelations, a sign of the Apocalypse. (more…)

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