Simon of the Desert

Simon of the Desert is a 1965 Mexican surrealist film directed by Luis Buñuel and starring Claudio Brook and Silvia Pinal. It is loosely based on the story of the ascetic 5th-century Syrian saint Simeon Stylites, who lived for 39 years on top of a pillar. The screenplay was co-written by Buñuel and his frequent collaborator Julio Alejandro.


When the ascetic Simón has spent six years, six weeks, and six days on a small platform atop an approximately ten-foot-tall pillar in the middle of the desert, a crowd of monks and peasants gathers around him and invites him to move to a much taller pillar that has been erected by a wealthy family to thank him for healing one of them. Peasants call out for his help as he is led the short distance to the new pillar, and his aging mother approaches and says she wishes to be near him until her death. He allows her to stay, though he says he will not acknowledge her so she does not distract him from his prayers. The monks attempt to bestow holy orders on Simón, but he refuses, saying he is an unworthy sinner.