The Devil of Los Abismos de Pasion

     Los Abismos de Pasion, directed by Luis Buñuel in 1954, is a striking movie in number of ways, most important of which is the extraordinary performances given by the cast. Of these performances, none can be compared to the dynamic performance of Luis Aceves Castañeda in the role of Hindley, or rather Ricardo as he is called in this movie. Castañeda takes the role; original played as a snobbish, cowardly brat by in the first movie, and completely turns it around.

     From the moment Ricardo steps onto the scene, we can tell he is forceful and cruel. Why, even the first glimpse of him we see is him torturing his son, Jorge (played by Jaime González)! From then on, he never lets up in his dynamic performance, which both entices and frightens the audience. For instance, in one scene, Ricardo approaches the hapless Isabel (Lilia Prado). The audience would expect him to take advantage of her, but instead the devious Ricardo goes to the drawer for his pistol. The result of this scene is that the audience begins to suspect Ricardo of being something above a mere bully.

     Much credit has to be given to scriptwriters Julio Alejandro and Luis Buñuel for going the road not taken, and making the Hindley character into a dominating, sadistic ogre of a man. Yet, at the same time, they make him every bit as much of a coward as he was before. For instance, when Ricardo shoots Alejandro (Jorge Mistral), it is only after he had failed three times to shoot Alejandro with a pistol. Having been beaten for this, he decides instead to fire on his enemy from long range. More kudos to Luis Buñuel for the proper direction of this concept, ignoring the syrupy 1939 classic and instead portraying his characters as Brontë would have in her 1847 Wuthering Heights. The most credit has to be given to Castañeda, the veteran actor, for giving a standout performance that makes the entire movie believable. As Jose (Francisco Reiguera) says early in the movie, "The Devil is coming into our house." He never seems to realize that the Devil is already in their home.

Joseph M. Pence

Table of Contents