Simon of the Desert (1965)

This film is based on the life of ascetic 5th-century Syrian saint Simeon Stylites, who lived for nearly 40 years on top of a column. It was directed by Luis Buñuel after he had to take his second exile in Mexico, as his movies were lambasted by the government and the Vatican.

Along with Viridiana and The Exterminating Angel, these movies form a trilogy of films that are critical of religion and star Silvia Pinal and Claudio Brook.

Simón has lived for 6 years, 6 weeks and 6 days in the midst of the desert atop a pillar, praying for spirital purification. Then, an assemblage of priests and townspeople offer him a new pillar and a chance at priesthood. He claims that he is unworthy before climbing up to his new perch.

But first, an amputee asks him to give him back his hands. As soon as Simón heals the man, he slaps his child and says that he is unimpressed with the religious man. He then either judges or ignores the other people who come to him.

Interestingly enough, that man is Buñuel.

Then, Satan (Silvia Pinal) visits him three times. First, as a cursing girl, hen as Jesus and finally as himself. Time and again he begs our protagonist to come down from the pole before finally moving him to a nightclub in our time, as a dancefloor begins doing the Radioactive Flash. Simón just wants to go home, but Satan says he must stay.

While this film was to be much longer, budget cuts gave it the short run time and what some may see as an abrupt ending. I really enjoyed it, as it feels like some strange parable sent to us from another dimension.

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