Simón del desierto (Simon of the Desert) (1965)
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
Forty minutes is more than enough screen time for Spanish director Luis Buñuel to state his case in Simon of the Desert. Claudio Brook portrays fifth-century Christian Simon (later St. Simon Stylites) who dispenses religious sagacity while standing on a tall column in the middle of the desert. Typical of Buñuel's hatred of the Church, the Devil (Silvia Pinal) is a far more entertaining and articulate spokesperson for his point of view than Simon is for Christianity. An abrupt, ill-suited ending suggests that Buñuel either tired of the subject and wanted to move on to other things, or that he ran out of money and had to wrap before the process servers showed up. This Mexican film was originally titled Simon del Desierto. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi … More
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for Simón del desierto (Simon of the Desert)
Mr. Bunuel's powerful, funny, startling but inconclusive commentary on man's frailties.
Buñuel's wit is piercingly sharp, his timing impeccable, and his visual style superbly unobtrusive and naturalistic -- proving again how much realism is required in surrealism.
It's in the circus that surrounds Simon where we really see Bunuel's dark wit at play...
Far from mocking his penitent protagonist, Buñuel values his tenacity of belief even while seeing his sacrifice as a useless monument
Atheists make such good religious films (because) they tend to think about God all the time.
This is one of my favorite Bunuels, simply because it gets right to the point; he doesn't have time to beat around the bush.
a perfect introduction for Buñuel neophytes to begin to find their way through the filmmaker's devious groove
Luis Bunuel's Simon of the Desert is a short, but highly satisfying, surrealist parable about religious faith and morality, self-righteous intolerance, temptation, and corruption.
Though flawed because of the cuts, what's there is Buñuel at his wittiest having a good laugh at the church's expense.
Simon of the Desert's little Bible stories are twisted evocations of the dumbing down of faith by postmodern Christian anxieties and hang-ups.
Audience Reviews for Simón del desierto (Simon of the Desert)
It is typical of every religion to preach that self-sacrifice is the path to find God. That giving up all the "pleasures" of the world will purify man. Wonder where those teachings came from, but it is quite a common trait, no matter what religion. Embrace asceticism, rid yourself of the so-called "worldly pleasures" or "sins" and achieve your spiritual or religious goals! The ultimate path to salvation is here!
The Catholic teachings are no different, and Luis Bunuel has always been highly critical of organized religion. He has dedicated so many of his films as tools to launch razor sharp, scathing attacks on these beliefs or the Church in general.
Loosely based on the real life story of the 5th century ascetic Saint Simeon Stylites, who spent 39 years atop a column ,"Simon of the Desert" is no exception. Picture a bearded monk, Simon (Claudio Brook), devoting his life to ascetic ways. He has already spent six years, six weeks and six days atop a pillar in the middle of the desert, praying for spiritual purification. He has gained a good amount of followers; mostly peasants, some priests and other village folk who believe that he has been blessed with special powers. They come to him for help or deliver some food from time to time. He is offered a brand new, taller pillar as a token of their faith and respect for his sacrifice. Simon continues his act of good faith, keeps delivering sermons and can even seemingly perform miracles.....
Sounds like a serious, religious, deeply meaningful, preachy biography of a Saint? Not in the Luis Bunuel universe! Trust Bunuel to turn something that sounds very deep and heavy into a darkly humorous, absurd mock-fest that is unrelenting and uncompromising in its ways so much so as to scandalize half the audiences who could be believers!
So this whole God-fearing stuff takes a dramatic turn as some of the priests and peasants start getting critical of Simon and think it is all in vain. Simon is taken to be an arrogant man by some, and a few others think he is faking it. Simon himself begins to deem his actions futile on several occasions. What's more...the Devil shows up too, and tries to "tempt" Simon in his many ways by appearing in the form of a beautiful woman (Silvia Pinal) in an attempt to seduce Simon out of his saintly ways! Will Simon yield to the temptation?
Bunuel takes only about 45 minutes to drive his point across and does it with his masterful touch. Accompanied by Gabriel Figueroa's beautiful camerawork, Bunuel makes unpredictable transitions from realism to surrealism to hilarious absurdism all in the miniscule time frame that was available to him. Apparently Gustavo Alatriste, the producer could no longer fund the film for some reasons and that is how Bunuel was forced to abruptly end the film (with a bizarre ending that has been criticized in several write-ups, but do not be misled...it does have its place..and its own charm based on the interpretation), while in reality he wished to add more material to the film. Whatever the reasons, the end result is a highly original, savagely funny and one of the most eccentric works of cinema from the twisted mind of Luis Bunuel.
Pay especially careful attention to certain scenes in which Simon mutters random religious ramblings on seeing some ordinary creatures like an insect (that has absolutely no idea of what is going on!) and later tries to do the same with an inanimate object but gives up! Or the scene in which Simon performs a miracle and gives a cripple a new pair of hands...and the eventual consequence of it! Or that brutally funny scene in which some of the priests don't seem to know the meaning of a particular Biblical reference. Every scene drips a lot of really clever writing....and there is no question that this is an exemplary work of genius from the great director.
Bunuel's pick of actors add to the amazing experience with their superb performances, especially Claudio Brook, Silvia Pinal and the midget Jesus Fernandez.
"Simon of the Desert" is the kind of film that leaves you wanting more. Another 45 minutes of running time perhaps?
Check out this masterpiece...do not waste anymore time.
delirious tale of a mystic who lives on a pillar in the desert and is repeatedly tempted by satan. only about 45 mins long and yes it is very funny in a satirical way tho it feels somewhat incompleteMore
Luis Buñuel is a real creator, not a follower! That is why I love his work so much... and this is another fine example how he creates. He actually wrote the novel and then he adapted it with help of his friend Julio Alejandro. The novel and this 1965 film were loosely based on the story of the ascetic 5th-century Syrian saint Simeon Stylites, who lived for 39 years on top of a column. On the screen we could enjoy again Silvia Pinal's and Claudio Brook's great acting.
Buñuel was never a great friend of Vatican and when in 1960 he returned to his home country Spain after a long-term exile in Mexico in order to direct Viridiana , didn't take long for him to be on the black list again! The film scandalized the Vatican and the government, which prompted Buñuel into a second exile back to Mexico. In Mexico he could freely direct The Exterminating Angel in 1962, and as well as Viridiana, the film was critical of religion. This movie, Simón del desierto was the last of the trilogy (using the same stars) and he keeps the controversial dealing with religion while still managing to keep the certain elements of his surrealist period. During the movie you could feel that the director caricatures Simon Stylites while admiring his reactions on some things he had to endure and see during his life...
How many movies you've seen which will take you on a surrealistic trip in which the main character resists Satan's lures, performs a miracle and garbles some prayers but ending in a swinging discothèque with no option to escape this futuristic word in which he was thrown until the end!?
You can enjoy the official 42 minutes (actually my version was 45 with all the credits) of unusual story with beautiful black-and-white photography by Gilbert Figueroa... and think while you're doing it!
Discuss Simón del desierto (Simon of the Desert) on our Movie forum!