DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

That Obscure Object of Desire, Blu-ray (1977/2013)

Another Bunuel classic, though not the best film of the Spanish surrealist.

Published on February 2, 2013

That Obscure Object of Desire, Blu-ray (1977/2013)

Director: Luis Bunuel
Cast: Fernando Rey, Carole Bouquet, Angela Molina, Julien Bertheau
Studio: StudioCanal/ Lionsgate [1/13/2013]
Video: 1.66:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: French or English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, French SDH
Extras: “Arbitrary Desire” – interview with Jean-Claude Carriere, Interview with Carlos Saura, “Double Dames” – interview with the two female leads, “A Portrait of Luis Bunuel” – Interview with Pierre Lary and Edmond Richard, Previews
Length: 103 minutes
Rating: ****½

This classic from the Spanish surrealist received two Oscar nominations, including for Best Foreign Language Film. It is not among his most surrealist efforts, but deals with the struggles of an urbane widower businessman who is completely tortured by his lust for a girl who begins as a servant in his house. The most surrealistic thing about it is that Bunuel’s crew shot tests for the female role with two different actresses, and Bunuel like them both so much that he used both of them—switching back and forth on the screen without much explanation—evidently pointing up the changing moods of the girl.

The two Conchitas make it totally impossible for the businessman to sexually possess her—although she even agrees to be his mistress at one point, and the girl’s mother seems to go along with the plan. The man’s approach is pretty ham-handed, so it’s difficult to empathize completely with him. During a train trip, the businessman explains his story at length and in detail to everyone in his cabin. There is also the element of continual terrorist bombings and crimes going on in Paris. Not Bunel’s best film, but interesting nevertheless. I noticed there was an English dubbed soundtrack and used that instead of subtitles. I think I’ll return to subtitles on the next film. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a DVD or Blu-ray that said on the box it was black & white and it turned out to be in color. I found the extras less interesting that most with Criterion productions.

—John Sunier




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