"That Obscure Object of Desire", made in 1977,  was Luis Buñuel's last film. It was based upon a novel by Pierre Louÿs; Le Femme et le Pantin, and the script was written by director Buñuel and frequent co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière. The film explores desire and unattainable objectification in the guise of an elderly gentleman's ( Mathieu, played by Fernando Rey ) quest for an elusive Spanish coquette.

That Obscure Object of Desire

by Luis Buñuel

Review of the film and Criterion DVD by Gary W. Tooze

I would say after having seen only two other Buñuel films, the ones that are on DVD: "Diary of a Chambermaid" and "Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise" - both from Criterion, I found this to be the most accessible of the three.

We see details of a plot unfold through flashback vignettes narrated by Mathieu to a group of passengers that he is sharing a  train car with.

The concepts of desire, wanting, unfulfilled passion with constant subtle references to terrorism and acts of violence, flow very comfortably making this an enjoyable viewing experience.

Buñuel uses two different actresses in the role of the girl, Conchita (Carole Bouquet and Ángela Molina). I believe this could have been done for a variety of reasons. To perhaps show that Mathieu, the narrator of the story, was never really aware of the woman he so desperately desired. Even in his mind he could not rationalize the details of her character. It could have shown a concept that Conchita was a complex character with the strong personality traits and depth of multiple women. She was stalwart in her personal philosophy but at times confused in her lack of affection towards Mathieu. The dual actresses could have represented this inner struggle. In addition it could also have been a Buñuel ploy to further allow the viewer to become accepting of the incongruous details of the story, which as far as his overall messages, would seem to be unimportant.

With the use of intelligent dialogue, "That Obscure Object of Desire" it is definitely not a film for everyone. It is nice to understand all the details of what are transpiring in front of you, but it is never necessary. The film is packed with beautiful cameras shots and thorough positioning of characters and objects within the picture frame. "Wonderful" may not be the appropriate word, but "thought provoking" would surely come close as an accurate phrase of description for this film.


DVD Menu

Extras include a fascinating year 2000 recorded  19-minute video interview with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière , who discusses many experiences working with Buñuel and his thoughts about the storyline and anecdotes behind "That Obscure Object of Desire". In the interview he speaks in English .

1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen.  From  insert:, "This new transfer was created on a high definition Spirit Datacine and mastered from a 35mm interpositiv." The picture quality is pretty spectacular with much sharpness and no instances of visible softness.


Technical Information

Release Information:
Studio: Home Vision Cinema
Theatrical Release Date: January 1, 1977
DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
Run Time: 104 minutes
Production Company: Public Media, Inc
Package Type: Keep Case

Aspect Ratio(s):
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Discographic Information:
DVD Encoding: Region 1
Layers: Dual
Available Audio Tracks: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Available subtitles: English

Edition Details:
• Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
• Color, Widescreen
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• New high-definition transfer
• New and improved English subtitle translation
• Video interview with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere
• Excerpts from Jacques de Baroncelli's 1929 silent La Femme et le Pantin, an alternative adaptation of the novel on which Luis Buñuel based his film
• Reprinted interview with director Luis Buñuel
• Widescreen anamorphic format


"That Obscure Object of Desire" in French Mono and English Dubbed Mono


The insert includes an essay about the film as well as a reprinted interview with Bunuel.

Full Cast and Crew for
Cet obscur objet du désir (1977)

Directed by
Luis Buñuel

Writing credits
Luis Buñuel
Jean-Claude Carrière
Pierre Louÿs (novel La femme et le pantin)

Cast (in credits order) complete, awaiting verification
Fernando Rey .... Mathieu
Carole Bouquet .... Conchita
Ángela Molina .... Conchita
Julien Bertheau .... Judge
André Weber .... Valet
Milena Vukotic .... Woman in train
rest of cast listed alphabetically
María Asquerino
Ellen Bahl .... Manolita
Valerie Blanco
Auguste Carrière
Mario David (I) (uncredited)
Jacques Debary
Antonio Duque (I)
André Lacombe
Lita Lluch-Peiro
Annie Monange
Jean-Claude Montalban
Muni .... Concierge
Bernard Musson .... Deporting policeman
Piéral .... Psychologist
Isabelle Rattier
David Rocha
Justo Ruiz .... Sect's member (uncredited)
Isabelle Sadoyan
Juan Santamaría

Produced by
Serge Silberman (producer)

Music by
Richard Wagner

Cinematography by
Edmond Richard

Film Editing by
Hélène Plemiannikov

Set Decoration by
Enrique Alarcón
Pierre Bartlet
Pierre Guffroy

Costume Design by
Sylvie de Segonzac

Makeup Department
Jean-Pierre Berroyer .... hair stylist
Odette Berroyer .... makeup artist

Sound Department
Guy Villette .... sound

Special Effects by
François Sune .... special effects

Other crew
Alan Best .... trainee
Suzanne Durrenberger .... script girl
Jacqueline Porel (II) .... post-synchronization
Hit Counter
Luis Buñuel’s films on Criterion DVD