After years in Mexican exile, Buñuel returned to his native Spain to make this dark account of corruption, which was immediately banned. A young nun, full of charity, kindness, and idealistic illusions about humanity, visits her uncle and tries to help some local peasants and beggars. But her altruism is greeted with ridicule and cruelty. Pinal gives a superb performance in the title role, and Buñuel’s clear-eyed wit is relentless in its depiction of human selfishness, ingratitude, and cynicism. The final beggars’ orgy – a black parody of the Last Supper, performed to the ethereal strains of Handel’s Messiah – is one of the director’s most memorably disturbing, funny, and brutal scenes. A masterpiece.
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