Raoul Ruiz – Les divisions de la nature AKA The Divisions of Nature (1981)

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Synopsis:
Les divisions is a documentary about the Château de Chambord and the title comes from the Divisione of Johannes Scotus (Erigena), the ninth century Irish philosopher (who was a ‘realist’, although the film is more ‘nominalist’ in characterization of the castle which presents itself as a representation). I say that it is a representation, since it is neither practical for military purposes (too many doors), nor to live in (too many draughts), but only as pure representation. So for the commentary, I tried to imagine how a Renaissance philosopher would view it in a pastiche of a scholastic or gothic text, then a pastiche of Fichte’s Vocation of Man and finally a pastiche of Baudrillard.’
– Raoul Ruiz Continue reading

Raoul Ruiz – De grands événements et des gens ordinaires AKA Of Great Events and Ordinary People (1979)

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Quote:
In 1978, Ruiz was commissioned to make a television documentary about the French elections from the viewpoint of a Chilean exile in the 11th arrondissement. But, contrary to the producers’ expectation, the Left lost. Ruiz seized on this anti-climax to make a documentary about nothing except itself – a film whose central subject is forever lost in digression and ‘dispersal’, harking back to his Chilean experiments of the ’60s. It is the best, and certainly the funniest, of self-reflexive deconstructions of the documentary form. Ruiz drolly exaggerates every hare-brained convention of TV reportage, from shot/reverse shot ‘suture’ and talking-head experts to establishing shots and vox pops (narrator’s note to himself: “Include street interviews ad absurdum”.) Every fragment of reality (e.g. polling booths on voting day) comes through the lens as a pre-fabricated televisual cliché. And, as always, Ruiz detonates his own auteur status.As an essay-film, Great Events contains many echoes – and a cheeky critique – of the sophisticated political filmmaking of Chris Marker. But Ruiz increasingly spices up the lesson with surreal elaborations – such as progressively shorter re-edits of the entire film, avant-garde decentrings of image and sound, and crazy runs of ‘secondary elements’ such as particular colours, angles and gestures. Continue reading

Raoul Ruiz – Ce jour-là AKA That Day (2003)

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Quote:
Auspiciously set in the nebulous and indeterminate milieu of “Switzerland, in the near future”, Raoul Ruiz’s eccentric, surreal fable opens to the shot of an abstracted and dotty young woman named Livia (Elsa Zylberstein) sitting on a park bench overlooking a fog obscured dirt road that is curiously located near the entrance of the San Michelle mental health institution. While jotting down a series of random, fleeting thoughts into her journal, she meets a cyclist who is abruptly thrown from his bicycle and, convinced that he is an angel (since, as her idiosyncratic theory goes, all angels on earth have fallen), proceeds to explain that tomorrow is destined to be the best day of her life, or rather – as she corrects herself – the most important day, which she comes to realize is not the same thing. Soon after the encounter, Livia is whisked away by her faithful and devoted servant Treffle (Jean-François Balmer) and brought home to the family’s country estate where a crowd of snide and unscrupulously calculating relatives amass near the front steps awaiting her father, Harald’s (Michel Piccoli) return home to celebrate his birthday. Continue reading

Raoul Ruiz – Mistérios de Lisboa AKA Mysteries of Lisbon (2010)

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Raúl Ruiz is one of the great cinematic self-perpetuators, like Louis Feuillade and Jacques Rivette—a film like this gathers a motion and a rhythm that makes it feel like it could on and on, self-generating new stories and new characters ad infinitum.  Based on the novel by Camilo Castelo Branco (whose writing has been the source for Oliveira’s similarly fatalistic romance,Doomed Love), Mysteries of Lisbon is, to paraphrase a line from one of its many characters used to describe a disastrous relationship he had, a game that turns into a bourgeois romantic drama, to which I would add, that turns into a game.  It starts—as all stories must?—with an orphaned boy questioning his parentage and falling into a fever, and out of that starting point the film evolves less as a story than a cartography of characters crossing points in space and time.  On paper it is indeed all melodrama: identities revealed, lives saved in the past coming back to haunt the saviors, secret connections, loves turns to hatreds. Continue reading

Raoul Ruiz – Poetics of Cinema 2 (2007)

Quote:
“Eleven years separate these lines from the first part of my Poetics of Cinema. Meanwhile the world has changed and cinema with it. Poetics of Cinema, 1 had much of a call to arms about it. What I write today is rather more of a consolatio philosophica. However, let no one be mistaken about this, a healthy pessimism may be better than a suicidal optimism.” Following his research in Poetics of Cinema, 1 on new narrative models as tools for apprehending a fast-shifting world, Ruiz makes an appeal for an entirely new way of filming, writing and conceiving the image. “‘Light, more light,’ were Goethe’s last words as he died. ‘Less light, less light,’ Orson Welles cried repeatedly on a set–the one and only time I saw him. In today’s cinema (and in today’s world) there is too much light. It is time to return to the shadows. So, about turn! And back to the caverns!” Continue reading