Friday, March 25, 2016

The Only Woman for All of Them

A jail window breaks and God releases Pandora onto the world. One needs to bear in mind the beginning of Luis Bunuel's 1951 film Susana as one sees a family slowly going violently mad after a beautiful young woman is introduced to their hacienda. A deadpan lampoon of hallowed misogyny, the movie is a nice little glimpse of Hell.

The film begins on a stormy night in a women's reformatory where a screaming and kicking Susana (Rosita Quintana) is being thrown into solitary confinement. In her miserable solitude, she makes a plead to God; describing herself as wretched as the spiders and the bats, she asks God to do something since he made her the way she is. Miraculously, the barred window pops open.

Before long, she's taken in by a wealthy, pious family. Dona Carmen (Matilde Palou) is impressed by what a hard worker Susana is and convinces the patriarch, Don Guadalupe (Fernando Solar), to keep her on despite his misgivings.

Very quickly, their opinions reverse as every woman on the hacienda wants Susana gone and every man wants her for himself. On one level, the audience could, and many probably did, take the movie as an indictment of young women who like sex. Susana always makes sure her blouse is pulled a bit down her shoulders, she flirts with all the men. There is the impression that the common sense justice of the community would hold Susana responsible when Jesus (Victor Manuel Mendoza) rapes her despite the fact that she screams and hits him, trying to push him off. Dona Carmen still considers this a trivial reason for Don Guadalupe to fire Jesus.

When Guadalupe is out shooting one day, Susana pretends to sustain an injury. When he follows the sound of her screams, he finds her on the ground, claiming to have a hurt leg. When he feels for her wound, she tells him it's higher up.

Having Guadalupe in her pocket means she can get lighter chores and better quarters in the household. But she tries to seduce his son, Alberto (Luis Lopez Somoza), just because she feels like it.

Conflict erupts between father and son, man and wife, master and servant. Dona Carmen and a loyal housemaid pray to God to be rid of Susana before, in their anger, they eventually resort to the whip. The final act of the film is pretty broad and blame for all the discord seems to land square on Susana's head. As though it's her fault all these people started acting like children when she appeared. For all their pleas to God, we know who let Susana out of jail--the same being they'd attribute her creation to.

Twitter Sonnet #854

A seven layer cake with wheels took tracks.
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Misspent banana spoons were used to scry.
Unused, the pool reflects the star of dough.
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The stove between the suns began to glow.
Encouraging, the eyes outsourced the flame.
All sparks of metal fruit rebounded east.
There's no remaining copper tree to tame.
A tinsel fog descends to spike the feast.
AWOL uniforms move through air at speed.
Cocaine daydreams can't learn to write or read.

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