Art of the Real 728x90 Film Comment Film Society of Lincoln Center

Art-House Pick: Tristana

By Emma Myers

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(Cohen Media, $19.98)

Tristana Luis Buñuel

Adapted from Benito Pérez Galdós’s novel, Luis Buñuel’s 1970 film follows its title character (Catherine Deneuve) on her trajectory from submissive biped to one-legged sadist as she turns the patriarchal tables on her aged guardian cum pseudo-husband Don Lope (Fernando Rey). Despite the distracting Spanish dubbing, Deneuve is porcelain perfection as the titillating Tristana, whether she’s submitting to the groping of her maidservant’s deaf son or diabolically conspiring with the winter draft to finish off Don Lope. Without concern for thematic subtlety, the film is a black fable that foils sanctity and sin, sexual freedom and psychological servitude, satirically exposing the perversity of blue-blooded mores along the way. Considered the inferior twin sister of the director’s 1951 Viridiana, the film nevertheless boasts a bounty of Buñuelian pleasures from waxed mustaches and lavish bourgeois interiors to severed heads and a fetishized false limb that reportedly caused Alfred Hitchcock to cry out in gleeful admiration: “That leg! That leg!”