Nationality: Chilean. Born: Puerto Montt, Chile, 25 July 1941. Education: Studied law, theology, and theatre; spent year at Documentary Film School of Santa Fe, Argentina, 1966. Family: Married to filmmaker and editor Valeria Sarmiento. Career: Prolific writer of stage plays, 1956–62; shot first film La maleta (unfinished) at Grupo Cine Experimental, University of Chile, 1960; directed first feature, Los tres triste tigres , 1968; film advisor to the Socialist Party in Allende's coalition, 1971–72; forced into exile following Pinochet's coup, 1973; moved to Germany, then to France, 1974; filmmaker with France's National Audiovisual Institute, from 1977; director for TV, 1980s; director, La Maison de la Culture, Le Havre, 1985–88. Awards: Grand Prix, Locarno Festival, for Tres Tristes Tigres , 1969; César Award, for Colloque de chiens , 1978.
Films as Director and Scriptwriter:
La maleta (unfinished)
El tango del viudo (unfinished)
Los tres triste tigres ( Tres Tristes Tigres ; Three Sad Tigers )
Militarismo y tortura (doc short); La cate naria (unfinished)
Que hacer ? (co-d)
La colonia penal ( The Penal Colony ); Ahor te vamos a llamar hermano ( Now We Will Call You Brother ) (short); Nadie dijo nada ( Nobody Said Nothing ); Mapuches (doc short)
Los minuteros ( The Minute Hands, The Street Photographer ) (short)
La expropriación ( The Expropriation ) (completed in Germany); Nueva canción Chileña ( New Chilean Song ) (short); El realismo socialista ( Socialist Realism ); Palomilla brava ( Bad Girl ); Palomita blanca ( Little White Dove ) (co-d, unfinished due to coup); Abastecimiento ( Supply ) (short)
Diálogo de exilados ( Dialogue of Exiles )
El cuerpo repartido y el mundo al revez ( Mensch verstreut und Welt verkehrt ; The Scattered Body and the World Turned Upside Down )
Sotelo (doc short)
Colloque de chiens ( Dog's Language ) (short); La Vocation suspendue ( The Suspended Vocation )
L'Hypothèse du tableau volé ( The Hypothesis of a Stolen Painting ); Les Divisions de la nature (short)
De Grands Evènements et des gens ordinaires ( Of Great Events and Ordinary People ); Petit Manuel d'histoire de France ( Short History of France ); Images du débat ( Images of Debate ); Jeux ( Games ); Rue des archives 79
Le Jeu de l'oie ( Snakes and Ladders ) (short); La Ville nouvelle ( The New Town ) (short); L'Or gris ( Grey Gold ); Teletests (short); Pages d'un catalogue ( Pages from a Catalogue ) (short); Fahlstrom (short)
Le Territoire ( The Territory ); Le Borgne (serial); Het dak van de walvis ( On Top of the Whale ; The Whale's Roof )
Les Trois Couronnes du Matelot ( The Sailor's Three Crowns ); Classification des plantes (short); Les Ombres chinoise ( Chinese Shadows ) (short); Querelle de jardins ( The War of the Gardens ) (short)
Bérénice ; La Ville des pirates ( City of Pirates ); Point de fuite ; Voyage autour d'une main (short); Le retour d'un amateur de bibliothèque (short, for TV); La présence réelle ( The Real Presence )
L'Éveillé du pont de l'Alma ; Les Destins de Manoel ( Manuel's Destinies ); Dans un miroir ( In a Mirror ); Richard III
Mammame ; Régime sans pain ; L'Ile au trésor ( Treasure Island )
Memoire des apparences ; Vie est un songe ; La chouette aveugle
Brise-Glace ( Icebreaker ) (co-d)
The Golden Boat
Dark at Noon
The Secret Journey: Lives of Saints and Sinners ; Fado, Majeur et Mineur
À propos de Nice, la suite
Trois vies et une seule mort ( Three Lives and Only One Death )
Généalogies d'un crime ( Genealogies of a Crime )
Shattered Image (d only)
Le Temps retrouvé
Combat d'amour en songe (+ sc); Fils de deux mères ou Comédie de l'innocence
By RUIZ: book—
Poetics of Cinema: Miscellanies , New York, 1995.
By RUIZ: articles—
"Chili: le cinema de l'unité populaire," an interview with H. Ehrmann, in Ecran (Paris), February 1974.
"Notes sur La Vocation suspendue ," in Positif (Paris), December/January 1977/78.
"Les Relations d'objets au cinéma," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April 1978.
Interview with Don Ranvaud, in Framework (Norwich, England), Spring 1979.
"Filters, Exile, and Cunning: Problems of Time, Space, and Perception," an interview with Ian Christie, in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), December 1984.
Interview with Alain Philippon, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1985.
Interview with D. Ehrenstein, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1986.
Interview with E. Spigland, in Persistance of Vision , no. 8, 1990.
"Horreur Baroque," an interview with Frédéric Strauss, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), February 1992.
Interview with A. Masson and P. Rouyer, in Positif (Paris), June 1996.
"Ruiz Hopping and Buried Treasures: Ruiz on Ruiz: A Filmography," an interview and article by Jonathan Rosenbaum, Gavin Smith, and Mark McElhatten, in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1997.
"Histoire grotesque et sérieuse," an interview with Thierry Jousse and Jean-Marc Lalanne, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April 1997.
Interview with Bruno Barde, in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), May 1999.
On RUIZ: books—
Buci-Glucksmann, Christine, and Fabrice Revault d'Allonnes, Raoul Ruiz , Paris, 1987.
King, John, Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America , London, 1990.
On RUIZ: articles—
Pick, Zuzana, "Le Cinéma chilien sous le signe de l'Unité Populaire (1970–1973)," in Positif (Paris), January 1974.
Roud, Richard, "Turning Points: Ruiz & Truffaut," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1978.
"Exile and Cunning: Raúl Ruiz," special section, in Afterimage (Rochester, New York), no. 10, 1981.
"Raúl Ruiz Issue" of Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), March 1983.
Raúl Ruiz Section of Positif (Paris), December 1983.
Mouesca, J., "El cine chileño en el exilio (1973–1983)," in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 109, 1984.
Raúl Ruiz Section of Casablanca (Madrid), January 1984.
Adair, Gilbert, "Raúl: Sheheruizade, or 1001 Films," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1984.
Rosenbaum, Jonathan, "Beating the Labyrinth," in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), January 1985.
Christie, Ian, "Raúl Ruiz and the House of Culture," in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1987.
Pick, Z., "Le cinema chilien de l'exil: le cas de Raoul Ruiz," in Cinemaction , July 1990.
Reynaud, B., "Ruiz sur l'Hudson," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July/August 1990.
Codelli, L., "Raúl Ruiz," in Ekran , no. 4/5, 1991.
Jayamanne, L., "The Case for Ruiz . . . ," in Filmnews , no. 9, 1991.
Strauss, F., "Horreur baroque," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), February 1992.
Riley, V., "Endless Vacations—the Journeys of Raúl Ruiz," in Filmnews , no. 11, 1992/1993.
Martin, A., and C. Tuckfield, "Never One Space: The Cinema of Raúl Ruiz," in Cinema Papers , January 1993.
Borroni, M., "Due film di Raúl Ruiz: Le tre corone del marinaio e La ville des pirates ," in Cineforum (Bergamo), November 1995.
Beaucage, Paul, "La démesure baroque de Raoul Ruiz," in Séquences (Haute-Ville), January-February 1997.
Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), May 1999.
* * *
A prodigious storyteller, Raúl Ruiz is also a prolific manufacturer of moving images. This Chilean filmmaker, now living in exile in Paris, has molded his films by a deeply personal concern with representation and discourse. His innovative and experimental work thus defies any attempt at classification.
The cinema of Ruiz is a cinema of ideas. He has unmasked ideological stereotypes ( Three Sad Tigers, Nobody Said Nothing , and Dialogue of Exiles ), has exposed the contradictions of despotic institutions ( The Suspended Vocation ), and unveiled his own tortured world ( The One-Eyed Man ) torn between his cultural origins and the false cosmopolitanism of forced exile ( The Whale's Roof ). His miseen-scéne is preoccupied with representation ( The Hypothesis of a Stolen Painting and The Divisions of Nature ) and the fragmentation of reality ( The Sailor's Three Crowns ). His narrative is imbued with an intense research into performance and the ambiguity of the spoken language. His storylines never appear to enjoy a privileged position within the overall narrative of his films ( The Expropriation ). The voice-over narration ( The War of the Gardens ), the commentary ( The Divisions of Nature ), or even the dialogue ( The Penal Colony ), by detaching themselves from the image track, acquire an independent life or serve to lure the spectator into the willful contradictions that Ruiz wants to explore. The spoken language, saturated with Chilean slang, often makes his films incomprehensible for non-Chilean spectators. In France, though, Ruiz has found an audience for whom simulations of Cartesian logic are the playful components of a fictional labyrinth.
Few filmmakers have taken better advantage of commissioned work. His video essays and documentary films for television and the Centre Beaubourg are original experiments with technology and narrative which inform the strategies of his feature work. A didactic comparison of French- and English-style gardens is displaced in favour of a playful suspense story ( The War of the Gardens ). A commissioned film on Beaubourg's cartography exhibition becomes a diabolic snakes-and-ladders game ( Snakes and Ladders ).
Ruiz has a passionate affair with technology. Working with innovative directors of photography—Diego Bonancina in Chile, Sacha Vierny and Henri Alekan in France—he has brought back the magic of French poetic realism to explore a world of manipulation, impotence, and violence. He favors the use of lighting, filters, and mirrors that deform filmic reality into a kaleidoscopic maze that traps his performers ( Snakes and Ladders ) and turns familiarity into fantastic exoticism ( The Territory ). Ruiz's originality stems from personal paradox. He is an exiled filmmaker in search of a territory, mastering a new language while stubbornly upholding his roots, and confined in a culture he recognizes as having colonized his own.
Ruiz's contribution to Chilean cinema has been openly acknowledged since Three Sad Tigers in 1969. His innovative approach to film, his independence, and his critical stance on political reductionism have often set him apart from the mainstream. A name rarely mentioned in discussions on the new Latin American cinema, Ruiz retrospectives in Madrid, Edinburgh, London, Rotterdam, and Paris have finally brought him public recognition. After years of relative obscurity, critical acclaim has earned him a leading position within the French avant-grade.
Chilean cinema in exile has found in Ruiz a respected and vital representative. A total filmmaker, for whom theater, music, literature, and visual arts are familiar territory, Ruiz successfully combines intellectual inquiry with Latin American hedonism.
—Zuzana Mirjam Pick