TRISTANA (Luis Buñuel, 1970)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Saturday, July 19, 2:00 & 6:45, and Sunday, July 20, 2:00, 4:15, 6:30 & 8:45
Series runs through August 14
Luis Buñuel’s adaptation of Benito Pérez Galdós’s 1892 novel Tristana is an often underrated, deceivingly wicked psychological black comedy. A dubbed Catherine Deneuve stars as the title character, a shy, virginal young orphan employed in the household of the aristocratic, atheist Don Lope (Fernando Rey), an avowed atheist and aging nobleman who regularly spouts off about religion and the wretched social conditions in Spain (where the Spanish auteur had recently returned following many years living and working in Mexico). Soon Don Lope is serving as both husband and father to Tristana, who allows the world to pile its ills on her without reacting — until she meets handsome artist Horacio (Franco Nero) and begins to take matters into her own hands, with tragic results. Although Tristana is one of Buñuel’s more straightforward offerings with regard to narrative, featuring fewer surreal flourishes, it is a fascinating exploration of love, femininity, wealth, power, and a changing of the old guard. Deneuve is magnetic as Tristana, transforming from a meek, naive, gorgeous girl into a much stronger, and ultimately darker, gorgeous woman. Lola Gaos provides solid support as Saturna, who runs Don Lope’s household with a firm hand while also taking care of her deaf son, Saturno (Jesús Fernández), yet another male who is fond of the beautiful Tristana. The film is one of Buñuel’s most colorful works, wonderfully shot by cinematographer José F. Aguayo, who photographed Buñuel’s 1961 masterpiece Viridiana, which was also based on a novel by Galdós and starred Rey. Tristana is screening July 19 & 20 as part of BAMcinématek’s five-week tribute to the master filmmaker, who passed away in 1983 at the age of eighty-three. The series continues through August 14 with such other Buñuel works as The Milky Way, The Phantom of Liberty, Wuthering Heights, Belle de Jour, The River and Death, El Bruto, and the superb double-feature pairing of The Exterminating Angel and Simon of the Desert.