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That Obscure Object of Desire(1977)
Recounted in flashback to a group of railway travellers, the story wryly details the romantic perils of Mathieu, a wealthy middle-aged French sophisticate who falls desperately in love with his 19-year-old former chambermaid Conchita. Thus begins a surreal game of sexual cat-and-mouse, with Mathieu obsessively attempting to win the girl's affections as she manipulates his carnal desires, each vying to gain absolute control of the other. Brimming with a subversive wit, That Obscure Object of Desire takes satiric aim at a decadent, decaying society riddled with political unrest and moral bankruptcy.
For more about That Obscure Object of Desire and the That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray release, see That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 27, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Carole Bouquet, Fernando Rey, Angela Molina
Director: Luis Buñuel
» See full cast & crew
That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 27, 2012
Luis Buñuel's "Cet obscur objet du désir" a.k.a "That Obscure Object of Desire" (1977) arrive son Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal. The supplemental features on the disc include new video interview with Spanish director Carlos Saura; French writer Jean-Claude Carriere; exclusive new interviews with Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina; and a conversation with assistant director Pierre Lary and cinematographer Edmond Richard. The release also arrives with a booklet featuring an essay by Peter William Evans. In French, with optional English, French SDH, and German subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The main protagonist in Luis Buñuel's That Obscure Object of Desire is a wealthy, middle-aged Frenchman (Fernando Rey, Tristana, The French Connection) who is always impeccably dressed and polite. He loves spending time in chic restaurants and bars, and when he drinks, he likes to have a cigar.
One day, Don Mathieu discovers that the beautiful Conchita (Carole Bouquet/Angela Molina) works as a chambermaid in his house. He immediately makes a move but she walks out on him and on the following day quits. The rejection inspires Don Mathieu to prove to himself that he could still conquer a woman's heart. He tracks down Conchita, who lives with her mother in a tiny apartment on the outskirts of the city, and gives her an expensive gift, hoping that his generosity will make her realize that his intentions are serious.
Soon after, Conchita warms up to Don Mathieu and even promises to become his mistress. Sensing that he is on the right track, Don Mathieu asks her to come live with him. Then he meets Conchita's mother and offers her a large sum of money - because this is his way of making his intentions official. She accepts the money, but immediately after that Conchita writes to Don Mathieu to let him know that her heart cannot be bought. At first confused and then enormously annoyed, Don Mathieu makes sure that Conchita and her mother are promptly kicked out of their apartment.
The Frenchman and the object of his desire meet again in a chic bistro where she hands the customers their coats. Convinced that he overacted after he received her letter, Don Mathieu immediately offers Conchita a new life. They head to his lavish summer house in the countryside, where Don Mathieu hopes to make love to the beautiful girl. But upon arrival Conchita reveals to him that she is still a virgin and asks that he is patient with her. Then, just in case, she puts on a pair of very tight leather shorts, which can frustrate even men as determined and as experienced as Don Mathieu. Once again, the old man becomes annoyed, and then goes berserk and kicks Conchita out of the house.
The beautiful girl ends up in Seville - and Don Mathieu promptly follows her. They meet again in a busy bar where Conchita dances for men looking to get rid of their cash. When she confesses to him that what she did in France was only to test his love, Don Mathieu buys her an expensive home and assures her that she would never ever have to work again. Convinced that this is the glorious time when he would finally be able to make love to Conchita, Don Mathieu hands out the key.
Loosely based on the novel by Pierre Louys and scripted by the great Jean-Claude Carriere, Buñuel's final film takes aim at a familiar target - the rich and privileged as well as their desires and obsessions.
The film is irresistibly funny and at the same time seriously sad. It is funny because Don Mathieu's inexorable desire to win Conchita's heart creates some truly awkward situations where the old man is essentially repeatedly humiliated. It is sad because for a long time he does not realize that he could never have the woman his imagination has created. But because he is a product of a different environment where everything has a price, Don Mathieu is convinced that it is only a matter of time before Conchita falls in his hands.
The deliciously perverse overtones that appear in many of Buñuel's best films are also present here. They are easily detectable in the sequences where Rey and Bouquet are seen together. Bouquet's character is notably cold and ready to abuse if she must. Molina plays the warmer and gentler beauty that is more likely to fulfill the old man's wishes.
There are also a few of those typical for Buñuel's films surreal moments where fantasy and reality seem to overlap. Here bombs explode and terrorists come out of nowhere, shoot strangers for no apparent reason and then disappear into night.
Note: In 1978, That Obscure Object of Desire earned Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Luis Buñuel/Jean-Claude Carriere).
That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.67:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Luis Buñuel's That Obscure Object of Desire arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal.
Studio Canal's presentation of Buñuel's final film is very similar to their recent presentation of the classic The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Generally speaking, detail and clarity are dramatically improved when compared to previous DVD releases of the film (I've done some direct comparisons with the single disc from The Luis Buñuel Collection), while color depth and stability are a lot stronger. Most daylight sequences, in particular, look very good (see screencaptures #2 and 8) - there is good depth and excellent image stability. Sharpness levels are also pleasing, but there are absolutely no traces of overzealous post-production sharpening. There are no traces of excessive degraining either. Unsurprisingly, the film has a stable organic look, which should please viewers who project their films on large screens. This being said, That Obscure Object of Desire has not undergone a meticulous restoration. This isn't to imply that there are serious technical issues with the presentation, but occasionally during frame transitions there are extremely light color shifts, as well as a few sharpness fluctuations (see screencapture #18). Nevertheless, this is a competent presentation of the film that retains its organic qualities very well. For the record, there are no large cuts, damage or burn marks, or stains to report in this review. (This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Note: The disc's adjustable main menu - the interface can be set in English, French, or German - indicates that this Blu-ray release is also meant to be sold in Germany and France. Naturally, the German and French releases should look identical to the UK release.
That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Studio Canal have provided optional English, German, and French SDH subtitles (with the descriptive text appearing in red) for the main feature.
The original audio is solid. The dialog is crisp, stable and free of distortions. The film does not have a prominent music soundtrack, which is why the overall range of nuanced dynamics is quite limited (even the sound of the passing train and the few gunshots that heard throughout the film are quite modest). However, the sound is well rounded and balance is pleasing. I must mention, however, that some of the actors did post-dubbing, which is why occasionally some of their lines and the audio could be slightly uneven. This is normal. The English translation is very good.
That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Luis Buñuel's final film, That Obscure Object of Desire, takes aim at a familiar target - the rich and privileged as well as their desires and obsessions. It is a delicious piece of satire from one of cinema's greatest masters. The film looks very good on Blu-ray. Studio Canal have also included some terrific supplemental features that shed plenty of light on the film's very interesting production history and focus on the legacy of its creator. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray, News and Updates
• That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray - November 5, 2012
Lionsgate Films have officially announced that they will release on Blu-ray director Luis Bunuel's That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), starring Fernando Rey, Carole Bouquet and Ángela Molina. The release will be available for purchase on January 29th.
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