Luis Buñuel‘s self-imposed exile in Mexico from 1946-1964 yielded a fruitful harvest, and his films from this period are, arguably, his most organic and economically composed. The director listed Nazarin, based off the Benito Perez Galdos novel, as a film he felt much affection for, and that affection extended to the character Father Nazario (Francisco Rabal). Buñuel’s paternal attachment to this child/film was sincere enough that when the film failed to win the Prix de l’Office Catholique (Catholic Film Prize), he could express a sense of relief.
The saturnine Fr. Nazario lives in a phantasmagoric haze, imagining that he is following the commandment of Christ to “take up one’s cross,” but only disaster lies in the stations Nazrio visits. Nazario does not build his house on rock, but on mud. He keeps company with a menagerie of freaks: beggars, thieves, whores, and a dwarf. Nazario refrains from bolting his door, despite the fact that his mob plunders his abode daily. He is relieved of all possessions, save his Sunday best and crucifix. Thank God for that. He befriends the suicidal Beatriz (Marga Lopez), whose self destructiveness is birthed from her incessant need for the abusive man who regularly deserts her.
Nazario provides shelter to Beatriz’ homely prostitute sister, Andara (Rita Macedo) after she is wounded in a knife fight. Andara has killed her rival and is hiding from local authorities. The local Church learns of the living arrangement and accuses Nazario of improprieties. Beatriz and Andara become Nazario’s Mary and Martha, but the paradox of the priest’s hypocrisy is that he pragmatically shuns Andara’s imaginative qualities, labeling it a “sickness.” Yet, Bunuel invests this setup with an inviting sense of irony. Nazario is Continue reading BUNUEL’S NAZARIN (1959)