Thinking Is Not A Crime

As the story begins Archibaldo, pampered scion of the Mexican aristocracy, is angry with his mother for leaving him with the governess for the evening. To calm his tirade, Archie’s mother brings him the music box. At the mother’s prompting, the governess tells Archie a story about the music box: made by fairies for a king, the box would make its owner’s every wish come true.

She goes to the window and watches the police and the rebels fighting in the street below. Archie, glaring at her, turns the key on the music box. As soon as the music starts the governess falls to the floor dead, stricken by a stray bullet fired in the skirmish below. Archibaldo is ecstatic. He stands over the body, a trickle of blood pooling on her neck, her exposed legs voluptuous in death. I assure you that morbid sensation gave me a certain pleasure, Archie recalls, to feel myself all-powerful.

A beautiful nun stands next to Archie’s hospital bed, smiling as she listens to this macabre childhood reminiscence. She tells him she didn’t like his story, but the look on her face says otherwise. It’s imprinted on my memory like a photograph, he tells her. Time has a way of distorting things,

the nun replies. She leaves the room for a minute; Archie extracts from his possessions a box containing seven straight-edge razors, one for each day of the week. He extracts the Friday blade. When the nun comes back, Archie asks her: Wouldn’t you be glad to die if it means eternal bliss? She would. I’ll give you that joy, Archie says, opening the razor. Terrified, the nurse runs out of the room, down the empty corridor, and into the empty elevator shaft, plunging to her death.

Buñuel shows us the unholy trinities of the Hispanic soul: aristocracy, church and military; motherhood, sex, and sadomasochism. And now we also see the magical fulfillment of desire, a kind of answered prayer, the spirit incarnate in Catholic mystical union. But there’s still something missing, something that makes confession unsatisfying, leaving Archibaldo neither punished nor forgiven: he has been denied the pleasure of actually committing the sin in the flesh

Thinking is not a crime