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Contamination and transformation: a Kristevan reading of Luis Buñuel's Viridiana

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The primary aim of this article is to explore, with some reference to the work of Julia Kristeva (especially to her concept of ‘the abject’), the implications of Luis Buñuel's Viridiana in relation to the social construction of an ideal and pure, albeit illusory, sense of self that alienates the individual from his/her desire and subjectivity. Attention is drawn to the different narrative devices and techniques that Buñuel employs to show how such an identity is always already contaminated by the material it strives to exclude. The analysis of key events in the film demonstrates how it is the experience and conscious realization of this contamination that undermines identity and, ultimately, transforms it, resulting in what is, arguably, a more authentic sense of self. The discussion will show the special relevance of this universal existential process of transformation to an understanding of the specific religious and socio-political situation that constitutes the film's historical context, namely, post-Civil War Spain.
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Keywords: Buñuel; Kristeva; Viridiana; abject; contamination; transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Aberdeen.

Publication date: 2005-04-01

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