A recent showing of Bunuel's rare TRISTANA (1970) as part of a Catherin Deneuve festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music was a cause for celebration and concern. The film's lone surviving print looked great but was in Spanish with French subtitles, but BAM made some English ones and projected them separately, and there were no problems! And the show was sold out! I was amazed frankly, at those subtitles smoothness. Kudos to the BAM Deneuve fest crew!
As an old reprobate with a beard similar to Fernando Rey's, it was both diconcerting and disheartening for me to see his character, Don Lope's libertine philosophy come back to haunt him as he ages from a stern dueling fanatic into a wussy old penitent. Catherine Deneuve is his young ward the way Dick Grayson is Bruce Wayne's, make of it what you will, but know this: Batman is sworn to protect the innocent and Don Lope, for all is socialist leanings, is not.
Deneuve is marvelous in a role that requires her to grow an unknown amount of years and lose her leg to a tumor. Franco Nero is her younger artist lover and he smolders passionately and winds up confused and tangled in the sick Lolita-like web like a Clare Quilty with no chameleonic ability, only foolish Spanish fly pride. The film has no music and is very formalist -- we get lots of fine Toledo architecture, and only a few flashes of Rey's severed head as the clapper inside the local church bell as far as surrealism. Catholic guilt hangs over everything, but the highlight is just watching the way Deneuve gradually grows hard and cynical. She changes believably as a character, and the film really picks up right around the time it ends... too bad, suckers!
But hey, my voyage down to the BAM to see the film has been chronicled by my own ward, M. Wright. Come and join me on an edulaxing, incantlightful and deformative journey: