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The Gaze and the Virgin: Marian Dimensions of Luis Buñuel's Viridiana
journal contributionposted on 2018-08-31, 14:18 authored by Sheldon Penn
This essay presents a new interpretation of the surrealist representation of female gender and patriarchy in Viridiana (1961) focused through its semiotic treatment of the Virgin Mary. Examining the reconfiguration of the Christian story, Christ and Mary are revealed as ‘ghosted’ doubles of Fernando Rey and Silvia Pinal’s characters. Analysing the ‘Last Supper’ and suicide sequences with reference to Bataille’s Story of the Eye, I trace an explicitly cinematic interplay of Marian motherhood and castrating patriarchy organized via the gaze. Conclusions on female gender and motherhood build on that commentary, giving insight into Spanish psychosexual identity in the film. Drawing on Kristeva’s ‘Stabat Mater’, I argue that the film questions logocentricity paralleling her text’s confrontation of the Word of the Father with the eventhood of childbirth. The doubling of Viridiana and Mary gives a surrealist counter-reading to the film’s bleak diegetic treatment of the bind of woman in patriarchy.
The completion of this work was made possible by a period of study leave granted by the University of Leicester.
CitationBulletin of Spanish Visual Studies, 2018
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of Arts
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)