The Criterion Collection Movie •••• Picture/Sound •••½Extras •••
Viridiana is Luis Buñuel's 1961 tragi-comedy of a pretty novice and her head-on collision with the outside world. The film's greatness lies less in his gleeful skewering of Catholicism than in his clear-eyed depiction of the all-too-human traits of his conflicted characters. Images are crisp, revealing most of the movie's baroque elements. Over-pushed contrast, though, obscures some of the darker details, and a few shots betray deteriorating source materials. The soundtrack is fine, with emphatically clear dialogue and music (and effects kept discreetly in the background). Extras include a new interview with actress Silvia Pinal, who has plenty to say about the film's creation and the scandal that followed its Cannes premiere. Better yet is a 1964 French TV profile of Buñuel, which cleverly intercuts his own retelling of his career with others' reminiscences of the same events. [NR] Spanish, Dolby Digital mono; letterboxed (1.66:1) and anamorphic widescreen; dual layer.