In “Nazarin” Bunuel goes beyond theological, dogmatic or historical Christ. He imagines existential Christ as Christ-like figure in our own times (as Anne-Marie Mieville and Godard imagine existential Mary in “Book of Mary” and “Hail Mary” correspondingly).

In Bunuel’s analysis (and Francisco Rabal’s performance) Father Nazario honestly exchanges with Christ virtue for protection but as soon as he steps out religious conventionality it becomes obvious that Christ’s help was in reality a Church’s power. As soon as Nazarin appears in the world alone with Christ he became opened to the abuse on part of various categories of people – desperate, predatory, and revengeful for being mistreated and abandoned. What is left for Nazarin is the way of martyrdom, exactly like it was for Christ vis-à-vis God and the world.

The Calvary of deprivations, physical assaults and humiliations became for Father Nazario a return to the truth of human condition for those who don’t dare to protect themselves by individual power, power of the group or by belonging to the powerful social institutions. The lesson of Christ for Nazarin is accepting human, not super-human (reinforced by social powers) destiny. Identification with Christ is for him identification with mortal human body, not with protecting God, with modesty and humility, not with super-human glory.

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Luis Bunuel with the movie camera nearby and screenplay

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Being unjustly accused by the police and held in custody with petty criminals Father Nazario has to go through the ordeal of being laughed at, humiliated and beaten up (refusing to defend himself physically)

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When after a long way on foot in the company of criminals Father Nazario was offered by a peasant woman modest gift he who usually always cared about others and with gratitude declined any offering, took the pineapple with such greed that it unpleasantly surprised him.

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By thinking about as to why he for the first time in his life couldn’t turn down the offering and give it back as a gesture of care, Father Nazario understood that his recent deprivations made him completely identified with the human destiny – with the destiny of those who are not protected by the power of God or church, ultimately with the destiny of Christ.

Posted on Feb 28 2010 –   Luis Bunuel’s “Nazarin” (1957) – the Fundamentalist Believers, the Scapegoated Outsiders, the Virtuous Followers and the Humiliated Martyrs by Acting-Out Politics