• Annella McDermott


Derek Malcolm, the former film critic of the Guardian, chose Viridiana as one of the hundred great films of the twentieth century on the grounds that it ‘caused the maximum annoyance to the type of people one is always glad to see offended’ (Guardian Supplement, 1 April 1999, 12). It certainly gave great offence to the Franco government in Spain, where it was filmed in 1961 but promptly banned. It was, in fact, first released in New York in 1962, and was not seen in Spain until after the death of Franco in 1975, by which time it had been widely exhibited and was considered a classic, elsewhere in Europe and across the world. The film is a savage critique of the kind of right-wing Catholicism on which Franco’s regime was based. The Spanish Civil War of 1936–9, one of the key historical events of the twentieth century — together with the Second World War, which it prefigured — began with a military uprising against the Republican government, and ended with the victory of right-wing authoritarian forces, led by Franco, who was to remain in power for the next thirty-six years. The Francoist state was anti-democratic, and opposed both to capitalism, which it considered materialist and decadent, and to communism. Basic freedoms were heavily curtailed; there were no political parties; all the media were subject to tight censorship; the Catholic Church exercised a great deal of influence, particularly through its privileged role in secondary education; laws had to conform to Catholic teaching, so that there was no divorce, for example, nor free access to contraception or abortion. Although Spain remained neutral during the Second World War, it was clear that the regime’s sympathies lay with the fascist powers and, with their defeat, Spain found itself in an isolated position throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s.


Republican Government Catholic Teaching Savage Critique Great Offence Wedding Night 
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References and Suggestions for Further Reading

  1. Baxter, John 1994: Buñuel. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar
  2. Buñuel, Luis 1984: My Last Breath. London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  3. Buñuel Luis 1969: Three Screenplays: Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, Simon of the Desert. New York: Grossman.Google Scholar
  4. Carr, Raymond and Fusi, Juan Pablo 1981: Spain: Dictatorship to Democracy, 2nd edn. London: George Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  5. Edwards, Gwynne 1982: The Discreet Art of Luis Buñuel. London: Marion Boyars.Google Scholar
  6. Higginbotham, Virginia 1979: Luis Buñuel. Boston, MA: Twayne.Google Scholar
  7. Mellen, Joan (ed.) 1978: The World of Luis Buñuel, New York. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Annella McDermott 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annella McDermott

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