Missing in action since, if I recall correctly, a Criterion Laserdisc back in the paleolithic era, Luis Bunuel’s 1970 masterpiece “Tristana” has reappeared on Blu-ray, in a solid new transfer from the Cohen Film Collection. Apart from a brief dream sequence, it’s a film devoid of any overtly “surrealist” touches, yet every frame achieves a subtly insinuating strangeness — an almost too-perfect clarity that results from Bunuel’s classically balanced compositions, restrained color palate, and impassively even pacing. It may be my favorite of Bunuel’s films, but why choose when there is so much to admire in his magnificent late period, including his final film, the 1977 “That Obscure Object of Desire,” which has also resurfaced in a new disc from Studio Canal/Lionsgate.
I didn’t have space to get into this question in my New York Times review, but this “Tristana” comes with an ending slightly different from the one I recall — although that ending is included as well, as an extra sourced from what looks like an older video master. The movie still ends with a little flurry of flashbacks recapitulating the story, but instead of continuing all the way back to the first sequence of the film, it now ends with a quick fade out as Don Lope (Fernando Rey) leads his young ward (Catherine Deneuve) to bed for the first time. Is there a Bunuel scholar in the house who can account for this alteration? I think I prefer the more symmetrical ending I remember from the 70s, but I’d be most curious to know the history here.