For anyone interested in Bunuel, Simon del Desierto is essential because this is the one film in which Bunuel takes as his immediate subject that which has played so important a part in the background of all his films: Christianity….
Simon is obviously neither Viridiana nor Nazarin: he is a powerful, fascinating figure, and Bunuel's treatment of him is generally sympathetic. Nevertheless, the film, intellectually a dilemma, is cynical and pessimistic. On the one hand, there is the nihilism of the 20th century which we all know; on the other, there is Simon's world—which is not entirely typical….
One of the most interesting tensions in any Bunuel film is between the elegant, composed construction of the film, so apparently slick and impersonal, and the pervading subjective obsessions….
Precisely what makes Simon del Desierto so interesting and important is that the Christian images do not merely float in the background but comprise the very subject of the film. It is as though Bunuel, after privately ridding himself of his own religion, now takes a careful look at the godless world of the 20th...
(The entire section is 355 words.)