Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Tristana (1970)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Tristana (1970, Fr./It./Sp.)

In Luis Bunuel's coming-of-age drama about obsession, hypocrisy, religion (Catholicism) and sex, described in its tagline as: "Somewhere between the innocent girl and the not-so-innocent mistress is the bizarre, sensuous story of Tristana" - similar in theme to Bunuel's own Viridiana (1961), and his final film That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), as well as Kubrick's Lolita (1960):

  • the title character in 1920s-1930s Toledo, Spain: young teenaged and orphaned Tristana (Catherine Deneuve), and placed under the guardianship of elderly, respectable, but decadent, atheistic and sexually-perverted aristocrat-nobleman Don Lope Garrido (Fernando Rey), a free-thinking Socialist and philanderer [Note: it was entirely possible that Tristana was his own child - her deceased mother was one of Don Lope's lovers]
  • the surrealistic dreamy nightmare of Tristina in a bell tower, where she experienced the "horrific" sight of Don Lope's amputated head seen as a bell clapper swinging back and forth - sounding the bell; awakening in a fright, Don Lope came to her bedside to console her
  • the development of an over-protective, sexually-abusive, over-possessive, father/lover-daughter relationship between the two; the sex scenes between them (off-screen) were hidden behind closed doors
  • the sequences of mistress Tristana's feeling of entrapment and her search for freedom, found in love for studly young painter Horatio (Franco Nero); she told him: "Do you think I don't loathe my life as a slave? I want to be free, to work" - subsequently, she departed from Don Lope for two years to Madrid
  • the sequence of Tristana's forced return to a wealthier Don Lope, after suffering a painful, malignant terminal tumor on her right leg, forcing expensive surgery and amputation
  • the erotic scene of Tristana's preparation to exhibit herself from her second-floor balcony to Saturno (Jesus Fernandez) - her third lover in the film - the mute teenage son of Don Lope's maid Saturna (Lola Gaos); she laid her prosthetic leg on her bed covered with articles of lingerie and undergarments that she had removed, before she emerged on the outdoor terrace; after Saturno signaled for her to open her clothing, she exposed herself by opening her dress and flashing her breasts (off-screen) - with a smile
  • the sequence of Don Lope's and Tristana's church marriage - after Don Lope had asked for and received the embittered and vengeful Tristana's permission to marry; before marriage, she had admitted to local priest Don Ambrosio (Vicente Soler): "How can I marry him, if I can't stand the sight of him?"; Ambrosio urged: "You have to overcome that unhealthy passion. When he was really doing you harm, you accepted it without a word. And now, when he's behaving so well with you... What more can you ask for?"; she replied: "The better he is, the less I love him"
  • the dramatic reversal of personalities in their tragic relationship, now that they were legally tied together: the mellowing, increased religiosity, kindness, and respectfulness of Don Lope, and the cold, God-less, unforgiving bitterness, hard-heartedness and self-destructiveness of Tristana
  • other examples of foot fetishism in Bunuel's film: early in the film, the instances when young Tristana would put on Don Lope's shoes for him; and much later, a view of her exposed right leg nub beneath her skirt as she played the piano and worked the foot pedal with her left leg
Emotionally-Crippled, Vengeful and Deformed
  • the concluding scene on a snowy winter night: the cruel death of Don Lope ultimately from pneumonia, deliberately caused by Tristana, who pretended to call a doctor for him from the adjoining room, and then opened his balcony doors to expose him to the cold air
  • the ending: a quick succession or series of replays of key moments from the film, unreeling the story backwards in a kind of narrative zoom to the first view of Tristana in the opening scene


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z

Welcome to Filmsite.
Please support the website by allowing ads.

We've detected that you are using AdBlock Plus or some other ad blocking software which prevents the page from fully loading.

With support from readers and visitors like you, we can continue to deliver the best commentary and film information on the web. You can support us for free by allowing ads.

Please add to your ad blocking whitelist or disable your adblocking software.