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Simon of the Desert (1965)

Simón del desierto (original title)
Simon, a deeply religious man living in the 4th century, wants to be nearer to God so he climbs a column. The Devil wants him come down to Earth and is trying to seduce him.

Director:

Luis Buñuel

Writers:

Luis Buñuel (based on a story by), Luis Buñuel (screenplay and dialogue) | 1 more credit »
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Claudio Brook ... Simón
Silvia Pinal ... The Devil
Enrique Álvarez Félix ... Brother Matías
Hortensia Santoveña Hortensia Santoveña ... The Mother
Francisco Reiguera Francisco Reiguera ... The Devil as an Old Witch
Luis Aceves Castañeda ... Priest
Enrique García Álvarez
Antonio Bravo Antonio Bravo ... Priest
Enrique del Castillo Enrique del Castillo ... The Mutilated One
Eduardo MacGregor Eduardo MacGregor
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Storyline

The ascetic Simón believes he is a sinner and decides to self-inflict a sacrifice, living like a hermit on the top of a pedestal in the middle of the desert to be closer to God and resist the temptations of the world. His followers are peasants and travelers that believe that Simón is a saint capable of performing miracles and they crowd to hear his speeches. However, Satan tries to tempt him with the pleasures of the world. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Mexico

Language:

Spanish | Latin

Release Date:

9 February 1970 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Simon of the Desert See more »

Filming Locations:

Samalayuca, Chihuahua, Mexico

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Luis Buñuel was inspired to take on this project after reading "The Golden Legend", a 13th-century biography of saints. See more »

Goofs

When the coffin is floating through the desert toward Simon's pillar, the wire pulling the coffin can be seen several times. See more »

Quotes

Simon: What's this dance called?
The Devil: "Radioactive Flesh." It's the latest - and the last!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Buñuel y la mesa del rey Salomón (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Himnos de los Peregrinos
Written by Raúl Lavista
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Oasis in the desert
15 April 2012 | by Aditya GokhaleSee all my reviews

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 camera-work, 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.

Score: 10/10.


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