Luis Buneul's 'Tristana' is a complex examination of human relationships and societal implications with some good old Catholicism bashing. It's the story of Tristana, a young woman, who is entrusted to the guardianship of the well-respected, Don Lope, after the death of her mother. The relationship between the two of them is odd, as Don Lope is the authoritative figure of the household, yet desires her intimacy. Essentially he is both her father and husband. His jealously keeps Tristana sheltered from the world, as she wants to experience new things. The most brilliant aspect of this film is the character-shift which takes place as the film progresses. For the first part, the viewer completely confides in Tristana, this poor sheltered girl. The scene between Horacio, the painter she begins to see behind Don Lope's back, and her is particularly powerful at showing a woman who is considered "tainted" or "used" by society's standards, yet she has never really truly experienced anything in this world, essentially a slave of Don Lope. While we sympathize more in the beginning, Don Lope is never painted as any type of monster, far from it. In fact, as the film progresses we begin to feel for Don Lope, a man who clearly has so much love and compassion for Tristana. The dinner table sequencer in which Don Lope pretends Tristana is still by his side, even though she has been gone for over 2 years, is particularly unnerving. By the end of the film, the audience's sympathy has completely flipped as Tristana becomes the dominate figure in the relationship, coming back into Don Lope's life after realizing she would much rather live in a loveless marriage than deal with the harshness of society. This is a much more subdued Bunuel, that still has and undercurrent of surrealism but nothing like some of his more celebrated efforts. Personally I find Bunuel's criticism of Catholicism boring, but the social criticism holds much weight, even today.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.