Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

El (1953)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

El (1953, Mex.) (aka This Strange Passion)

In Luis Bunuel's monstrous romantic melodrama:

  • the opening sequence set in a church during a Holy Thursday Lenten mass, where the moving camera took the POV of the wandering eyes of wealthy, devoutly-religious, middle-aged 45 year-old charming aristocratic bachelor Don Francisco Galvan de Montemayor (Arturo de Córdova); as he served as water-bearer, images reflected religious fetishism: Father Velasco (Carlos Martínez Baena) washed and kissed the feet of several choir boys, followed by an ankle-level panning sweep along the feet of the first row of people standing at the altar, a glimpse of a female's shoes - and briefly later, a return to the woman's pair of black pumps - and a tilting view upward at her shapely legs and face of the beautiful parishioner Gloria Milalta (Delia Garces)
  • after aggressively wooing Gloria (although engaged to his associate Raul Conde (Luis Beristain)) and marrying her, the scenes (told in flashback) of Francisco's random obsessions, jealousy, frustration, and extreme paranoia about Gloria, including his psychotic and deranged torment, battering and torture of her - (offscreen) behind her closed door, and his gathering of rope, needle/thread to bind his wife and sew up her vagina
The Belltower Sequence
  • the claustrophobic belltower sequence (similar to scenes in The Third Man (1949) and Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958)), when the delusionary Francisco took Gloria to the belfry of a bell tower, looked down at the people on the street and compared them to "worms" during a vicious rant, and threatened to strangle her and toss her body from the tower onto the sidewalk below, although she wriggled away and fled from him
  • the conclusion - Francisco now 'institutionalized' as a monk in a monastery where he claimed to be cured, but the final zig-zag closing shot of him as a black-hooded figure walking away from the camera down a long pathway toward a darkened arched rock doorway belied that

Bachelor Watching Parishioner Gloria

Francisco as Monk in Pathway


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