Friday, October 16, 2015

508. TRISTANA (1970)

Running Time: 95 minutes
Directed By: Luis Bunuel
Written By: Julio Alejandro, Luis Bunuel, from novel by Benito Perez Galdos
Main Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Fernando Rey, Franco Nero, Lola Gaos, Antonio Casas
Click here to view the trailer

NOTE: I've received my every-other-year, complimentary copy of the new edition of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book. I MIGHT wait until I'm all finished to write something up about it, but for the unaware who are curious, there were ten changes this time around. The films that were removed were mostly expendable and the ones that were added were mostly unnecessary inclusions, but I'll talk more in depth about that when I write my piece. For now, I'd just like to thank Eric Lax and the AWESOME people at Barron's Educational for sending me out the review copy. You can check out all of their catalog by clicking here.


When I first started rifling my way through THE BOOK, I would check Turner Classic Movies monthly to make sure they weren't playing any of the hard to find BOOK movies. I taped approximately twenty titles off the classic movie channel and Tristana is the final one, that I'm finally getting around to watching.

The title character is played by Catherine Deneuve - orphaned at a young age, Tristana is adopted by nobleman Don Lope (Rey). After raising her as his daughter for many years, Don Lope eventually falls in love with Tristana and becomes both his daughter and his wife (creepy, I know). After years of living as Don Lope's lover, Tristana meets Horacio Diaz (Nero), a young artist, more suited to Tristana's tastes. Being intimidated by Don Lope, however, makes Tristana fearful of leaving him. The maid eventually confronts both Tristana and Don Lope about the affair and plans are made for Tristana to leave with Horacio Diaz, via train. Fast forward two years and Tristana is back in town. Don Lope is visited by Horacio Diaz, who informs him that Tristana has taken ill, a tumor in one of her legs. It turns out that Don Lope never stopped caring about Tristana and since it is her wish to be ill in a familiar place, Horacio makes it known that she wishes to return to Don Lope's residence. Back in the house, Tristana is given the news that her leg must be amputated if she has any chance for survival. Following the amputation, Tristana marries formally marries Don Lope and instead of sunnier days for a happy couple, things go downhill. Before, Tristana was obedient and submissive, the new Tristana, however, is mean and wants almost nothing to do with Don Lope, even confessing to a priest that his touch sickens her.


Even though it's clearly not true, it seems like I've watched more Luis Bunuel films than any other director. It seems like he just keep popping up. Can you believe I still have one more to go (Viridiana)? Anyway, I'm not necessarily complaining, since I mostly like his movies. Even when they're bad, they usually leave a certain amount of intrigue on the table. There's always, at least, a hint of interest. He seems to be a self indulgent filmmaker, who at least tries to pull the audience in on his own fascinations. He seemed to be exploring certain innocence lost themes in the recently reviewed "La joven" and even when he's exploring themes that seem to interest him, he always backs his work up with a somewhat solid story - even if it fails to captivate (namely, "La joven").

I liked "Tristana", but wouldn't go so far as to call it great or "must see" or anything. It was a fine film, a perfectly acceptable way to spend ninety minutes, but when it was over, it was over and I wasn't particularly glad that THE BOOK pointed me in this film's direction. I'll never understand the appeal of Catherine Deneuve. I mean I guess she's okay looking, but I know that she was renowned worldwide as one of the great beauties and I just don't see it. Speaking of the cast, it was nice to see Fernando Rey in something besides The French Connection. I'm a huge fan of The French Connection and I'm always pleased to see actors that I liked in one thing, pop up unexpectedly in something else. It gives you a nice scope of their work to see them in something else. Now, the next time I see The French Connection, I'll have some frame of reference for Fernando Rey, instead of him just being THAT bad guy in the Gene Hackman movie.

The film was interesting in that it showed us how emotions can change. At one point in Don Lope's life and at a younger point in Tristana's life, the two treated each other one way and then fast forward so many years and their attitudes and actions toward one another completely change. Lope becomes a lot more submissive to his wife once she returns, probably because he's afraid of losing her again, so he's willing to withstand any punishment to keep her. Earlier in life, Tristana is the submissive one, probably because she doesn't know any better and because she still looks at Lope as a father figure, who should be obeyed. You get the sense that her two years away with the artist made her realize what an evil man Lope was for stealing her youth and innocence and upon her return, she wanted nothing more than to be with her father at her time of need, but realizing that this man couldn't really be regarded as a father any longer, so later, she grows to resent him and treat him badly. Definitely good stuff, especially if you go in expecting little.

RATING: 6.5/10  Wow and I thought I'd have nothing clever to say about this one and ended up spewing into three paragraphs. Good for me...


October 16, 2015  5:32pm


  1. I know beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder. I personally think Catherine Deneuve is extremely pretty, plus she was in Umbrellas of Cherbourg, one of my favorite films. She is a great actress, in my view.

    1. I guess I'm more of a Brigitte Bardot man,,,

  2. I've rarely been captivated by Deneuve (especially not in such sugary stuff as 'Umbrellas') .. but neither do I go for Bardot either .. Sorry folks.


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