Thinking aloud About Film: El Castillo de la pureza/ Castle Of Purity (Arturo Ripstein, Mexico, 1972)

I’ve been wanting to see Arturo Ripstein films for decades and never had the opportunity. Now MUBI is showing five of his films and, on the basis of El Castillo de la pureza/ The Castle of Purity, I plan to see them all. The film is based on a real story – not unlike that of the Wests or Joseph Fritzl – of a man who keeps his family locked in the house to protect them from being morally corrupted by society even as he – the only one allowed outside – indulges in every perversion the outside world allows him. When he comes home – the family, who’ve been working all day manufacturing the rat poison that is their living – gets all his self-hatred projected onto them, keeping them off-balance and under his thumb. The shadow of Buñuel overhangs this film – Ripstein had been his assistant on The Exterminating Angel, which bears some resemblance to this film, and Claudio Brook (Simon of the Desert) and Rita Macedo (The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz)  – the stars – also performed for Buñuel. A beautifully designed film, with a textured creepiness that envelops the family, one that is not just due to the rain and shadows that seep right into every corner of the home (the outside world is always sunny and bright) but a moral murkiness, a corrosive poison that is the result of that imperious patriarchal insistence on ‘purity’. A marvellous film. We discussed all the above and more in the podcast.

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José Arroyo


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