Cast & Crew
In 1929 after the death of her mother, Tristana goes to Toledo to live with her guardian, Don Lope; also in the house are his servant Saturna and her deafmute son, Saturno. Don Lope claims to be a free-thinker who despises the Catholic Church and most social conventions, but in practice he will do nothing to upset his own peace of mind. His affection for Tristana soon turns to desire, and when he attempts to seduce her, she complies without protest. Although Don Lope insists that she is entirely free, Tristana feels trapped by his increasing possessiveness. She falls in love with Horacio, a young artist, and runs away with him to Madrid, mainly to escape from Don Lope. Within 2 years, however, she develops a tumor in her leg and begs Horacio to return her to Don Lope, who has inherited a large sum of money. Her leg is amputated, and with Don Lope's care, she slowly recovers from the surgery. Don Lope, who has aged considerably, assumes the role of Tristana's father and encourages Horacio to court her, but she rejects his marriage proposal. Don Lope eventually marries her himself, at the insistence of a local priest. Tristana takes care of the now-senile Don Lope, who has turned to religion for consolation. One night he suffers a heart attack and implores her to call a doctor. Pretending to phone from the next room, Tristana opens the window to let the winter wind enter the dying man's room.
Mary Paz Pondal
Juan José Menéndez
José María Caffarel
Alfredo Santa Cruz
Leo Lenoir Scavino
José F. Aguayo
José F. Aguayo Jr.
Frédéric François Chopin
Forbes Film Ltd.
Rafael P. Murcia
José A. Noya
Pedro Del Rey
United Cineworld Corp.
Best Foreign Language Film
Filming started in September, with Deneuve in the title role of a young orphan in the custody of the well-to-do but politically liberal and anti-clerical Don Lope (Fernando Rey), who seduces her and makes her his mistress, only for her to leave him for a younger painter (Nero). Though the French star, not Buñuel's choice, was imposed on him by the producers, he was happy with her. In the diary she kept of the shooting, Deneuve noted with pleasure that Buñuel has taken "total ownership of this film - no one except him can really understand everything that has to happen in it." Buñuel's years of experience had given him an absolute mastery. "The risks he takes are those of someone who's seen it all," Deneuve wrote. "It's different with a younger director - risks often come from a lack of awareness. [Buñuel] knows exactly what he's risking, and does it anyway."
Deneuve, who had worked with Buñuel before on Belle de Jour (1967), found herself left to her own devices. "I don't always feel as if I'm being directed," she wrote one day. On another day, she wrote, "Don Luis seems very reluctant to give me clear instructions. Every time he makes a suggestion, he quickly adds, 'But as you like, don't take any notice.'" On the other hand, "Don Luis doesn't treat his actors particularly gently; it's very frightening when he interrupts during a take." She also found the director impatient with technical problems. "But in the end, you know, it was actually rather a wonderful shoot," Deneuve told Pascal Bonitzer, adding, "Tristana is one of my favorite films. Personally, as an actress, I prefer Tristana to Belle de Jour."
Tristana is one of Buñuel's most personal films. He transposed the action of Galdós's novel from Madrid to Toledo, a city that had held an immense fascination for him in his younger days. "For him, Toledo was the center of many things," recalled Eduardo Ducay, one of the producers. Buñuel also moved the period of the story from the late 19th century to the years from 1929 to 1935 - a period when Buñuel himself was still living in Spain. He filled the film with his memories of his early life, claiming that for Tristana's habit of distinguishing between two seemingly identical things, he drew on his memory of his sister, who "would put two pieces of bread on the table and ask me, 'Luis, which one do you like best?' 'Neither,' I told her, 'they are both the same.' She would say, 'Then the right one is better.' It seems stupid, doesn't it? I find a certain mystery in this."
The director saw something of himself in both his main characters. "In one way or another, [Tristana] and Don Lope touch my heart," he said. The pair offer incisive contrasting portraits of rebels. Tristana, an innocent, is warped by life and becomes vengeful and perverse. Meanwhile, Don Lope, in middle age a hypocrite self-satisfied with his own nonconformism, mellows in his old age in a manner that it is hard not to see as wry self-commentary by the director: Buñuel, who earned his fame as a Surrealist bad boy with the scandalous Un chien andalou (1929) and L'age d'or (1930), would celebrate his 70th birthday shortly before the release of Tristana. According to Pierre Lary, Buñuel's assistant director, "Tristana was made as a kind of exorcism... He was getting old and, at the same time, he was back in the place where he'd spent his best years... All that created a sense of pain, of fear, fear of old age rather than death... Fernando Rey was both his double and what he didn't want to be." Though Rey had previously appeared in Viridiana, Tristana marked the beginning of the Spanish actor's most consistent collaboration with Buñuel, which included two more films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and That Obscure Object of Desire (1977). Matching the sleek surfaces of Buñuel's mise en scène, Rey's rarely perturbed urbanity makes an ideal foil for the surreal absurdities and disruptions the director constantly throws in his heroes' paths.
Producers: Robert Dorfmann, Joaquín Gurruchaga, Eduardo Ducay
Director: Luis Buñuel
Screenplay: Julio Alejandro, based on the novel by Benito Pérez Galdós, adapted by Luis Buñuel
Cinematography: José F. Aguayo
Film Editing: Pedro del Rey
Art Direction: Enrique Alarcón
Cast: Catherine Deneuve (Tristana), Fernando Rey (Don Lope), Franco Nero (Horacio), Lola Gaos (Saturna), Jesús Fernández (Saturno), Antonio Casas (Don Cosme).
by Chris Fujiwara
John Baxter, Buñuel. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1998.
José de la Colina and Tomás Pérez Turrent, Objects of Desire: Conversations with Luis Buñuel, translated by Paul Lenti. New York: Marsilio, 1992.
Catherine Deneuve, Close Up and Personal, translated by Polly McLean. London: Orion, 2006.
Julie Jones, "A Dialog with Self: Luis Buñuel's Dramatization of Identity in Four Characters Played by Fernando Rey," Cineaste (Fall 2010), pp. 32-37.
Bill Krohn and Paul Duncan, editors, Luis Buñuel: The Complete Films. Cologne: Taschen, 2005.
Filmed on location in Toledo, Spain. Released in Spain in March 1970; opened in Paris in April 1970; running time: 105 min; and in Italy in October 1970.
Released in United States December 22, 1990
Released in United States May 1970
Released in United States May 2010
Released in United States September 20, 1970
Shown at Cannes Film Festival (Cannes Classics) May 12-23, 2010.
Shown at Cannes Film Festival May 1970.
Shown at New York Film Festival September 20, 1970.
Shown at Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA December 22, 1990.
Began shooting October 1969.
Re-released in Paris March 27, 1991.
Released in United States May 1970 (Shown at Cannes Film Festival May 1970.)
Released in United States May 2010 (Shown at Cannes Film Festival (Cannes Classics) May 12-23, 2010.)
Released in United States September 20, 1970 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 20, 1970.)
Released in United States December 22, 1990 (Shown at Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA December 22, 1990.)