Nazarín. 1959. Mexico. Directed by Luis Buñuel. Screenplay by Julio Alejandro, Buñuel, Benito Pérez Galdós, Emilio Carballido. Cinematography by Gabriel Figueroa. With Francisco Rabal, Marga Lopez, Rita Macedo. DCP. In Spanish; English subtitles. 94 min.
Luis Buñuel’s personal favorite among the films he made in Mexico, Nazarín is a blisteringly ironic, hauntingly beautiful parable about an idealistic young priest (Francisco Rabal) whose attempts to lead a truly Christian life are ridiculed by the thieves and prostitutes who make up his urban parish. Driven out, he wanders the countryside begging for food, but when his prayers seem to cure a dying child, he becomes a Christlike figure, pursuing his mission with two former prostitutes (Marga Lopez and Rita Macedo) as his apostles. Despite winning an award at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, the film’s treatment of religion proved so controversial that it was not released in the US until 1968, where it was received by an uncomprehending pan in the New York Times. Out of distribution for many years, Nazarín was restored in 2019 by Mexico’s Cineteca Nacional and Fundación Televisa, and now takes its place as one of Buñuel’s masterworks.