Tristana (1970): Bunuel’s Oscar-Nominated Masterpiece Restored

The Cohen Film Collection has completed the restoration of Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece, Tristana, and debuted the restored version, in high-resolution 2K DCP format, October 12, 2012, at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in Manhattan, where the controversial and acclaimed work will have a theatrical run.

Tristana stars Catherine Deneuve as an orphaned young woman who becomes the ward of a nobleman who seduces her. She then leaves him for an artist, but returns to her aging benefactor and calculatingly hastens his demise.

Filmed in Toledo, Spain, it was released in 1970 after protracted skirmishes with censors in Generalissimo Franco’s government. “The film portrays a shifting power struggle in a destructive game of sexual sadism, in which she has the last word, but at the cost of losing all innocence,” observes Timothy Lanza, archivist for the Cohen Film Collection.

Tristana received its American premiere at the New York Film Festival, and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.


Catherine Deneuve gives an astonishing performance in her role as the naïve waif turned hardened cynic–with her beauty seeming more precise and enigmatic.

The film also stars Fernando Rey as the nobleman, and Italian heartthrob Franco Nero as the artist. At the time, much in the way of gossip was written about Nero’s lateness on the set, apparently a result of the presence of Vanessa Redgrave, with whom he had an affair.

The remaining known negative of Tristana had experienced staining and color shifting over the years, giving the film a pinkish cast, not an uncommon problem with film stock used in the 1960s and 1970s,” according to Lanza.

The archivist says the original integrity of Tristana has been restored by combining the negative with segments from a quality positive in a high-res digital format, with the aid of DeLuxe Laboratories in New York and Filmoteca Española in Madrid.

Tristana is distributed by Cohen Media Group, a leading distributor of foreign-language and independent films in the U.S.

About Bunuel 

Luis Buñuel Portolés, born in Spain in 1900, became a leader of the surrealist film movement as early as the silent film era in the 1920s.

In his six-decade career, he worked in Mexico, Hollywood, France and Spain during various periods, making films known especially for their criticism of bourgeois morals and what he regarded as the hypocrisy of religion.

With the release of his most widely acclaimed film, Viridiana, in 1961, he became a dominant international figure in the movie industry.

Among Buñuel’s best known films are Belle de Jour, which also starred Catherine Deneuve, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and his last movie, That Obscure Object of Desire.

The director died in 1983.