Friday, 19 August 2011

Double Vision: Links in Memory of Raúl Ruiz, a Filmmaking Legend

Updated Sunday August 21, 2011
The late Raúl Ruiz in conversation with Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli at the University of Aberdeen in 2007. One of the most prolific directors of the last 50 years, having written over 100 plays before starting in the cinema, Ruiz films have been characterized as ironic, surrealistic and deeply experimental.

Here is my own theoretical fiction: in the waking dream that is our receiving the film, there is a counterpart; we start projecting another film on the film. I have said to project and that seems apt. Images that leave me and are superimposed on the film itself, such that the double film - as in the double vision of Breton traditions - becomes protean, filled with palpitations, as if breathing. [Raúl Ruiz, 'The Face of the Sea (In Place of an Epilogue)', Poetics of Cinema 2]
Every time that a general theory or a fiction is elaborated I have the impression that ... there is a painting stolen, a part of the story or puzzle missing. The final explanation is no more than a conventional means of tying together all the paintings. It’s like the horizon: once you reach it, there is still the horizon.  [Raúl Ruiz in L’Hypothèse du Tableau Volé/The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (Ruiz, 1979)]
... Raul Ruiz's comments on filmmaking outside metropolitan centres are revealing. He tells us how, when he was studying theater and film in Santiago with the aid of American textbooks, he was surprised to find "that the films we loved the most were badly made" - because they were not made according to the set of assumptions about action and behaviour in Central Conflict Theory." This led him to strategise that "every film is always the bearer of another, a secret film" and that "the strong points [of the inexplicit film] are found in the weak points of the apparent one." This argument seems to be not just about how fascination presents itself in film; it also suggests that fascination (Ruiz calls it "the gift of double vision that we all possess") is not just an aesthetic project: It is, above all, a social and political project. [MA Abbas, 'Dialectic of Deception', Public Culture, 1999, v. 11 n. 2, p. 347-363, p. 360 citing Ruiz, A Poetics of Cinema, trans. by Brian Holmes, (Paris: Editions Di Voir, 1995); p. 11, 111, and 109 respectively:]
Film Studies For Free is very sad to pass on news of the death of Chilean film director Raúl Ruiz in Paris after a long illness. 

Film critic Dave Kehr points to the report in Le Monde in which Ruiz's producer, François Margolin, informed the French newspaper that the director "was in the midst of finishing the editing of a film he has shot on his childhood in Chile ... And he was preparing another film in Portugal, on a famous Napoleonic battle.”  Perhaps we will get to see the first of these tantalising projects. FSFF very much hopes so.

Below is this blog's sincerely felt tribute to the brilliant Ruiz, one of the most memorable and talented of prolific filmmakers (and one of the most prolific of filmmakers against the odds): a list of links to online studies of the director's work, as well as to interviews with him, and writing by him. Further links will continue to be added here in the days and weeks to come.

Links to posthumous tributes to Ruiz, along with other material about his films, are being gathered by David Hudson at the Mubi Notebook.

Update (August 21, 2011): The list below was expanded with many additional entries, including, at the foot of the post, a number of documentaries about (and/or recordings of) Ruiz. Of particular note is the documentary Exiles: Raoul Ruiz Chilean Film Director (BBC, 1988, directed by Jill Evans), which contains many marvellous excerpts from Ruiz's films. 

Also see Jonathan Rosenbaum's marvellous tribute to Ruiz, 'Ruiz Hopping and Buried Treasures: Twelve Selected Global Sites'.

You can watch Ruiz's Three Crowns of a Sailor (1983, circa 117 mins) online at present for free, too!

And Girish Shambu has just posted "A Ghost at Noon",  a remarkable and very personal tribute to Ruiz by Adrian Martin (author or editor of many of the essays below).

Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen: Tuesday 13th June 2006, Mr Raoul Ruiz, the distinguished film director spoke to us in broad terms about his work in film (he has directed almost 100 films) and film theory (he is the author of a multi-volume book entitled "The Poetics of Cinema").


Michael Guillen said...

As ever, thank you so much for this, Catherine. I feel like spending the whole day reading select pieces, familiarizing myself, with one of the few filmmakers I truly wanted to converse with.

Catherine Grant said...

Thanks you, Michael. I love your interviews with filmmakers. So I'm also very sorry you never got a chance to converse with Ruiz.