«As in his films, the life of this filmmaker is summed up in a word: unstoppable.»
In 1983, Serge Toubiana wrote in “Le cas Ruiz” (The Case of Ruiz), his introductory text in the magazine Cahiers du Cinéma Nº 345, the Raul Ruiz special edition: the most prolific filmmaker of our time, a man whose film credits are almost impossible to define given his diversity, splendour, and multiplicity with regard to production, for more than twenty years(…).
Poignantly emerging onto the international scene at the end of the 1970’s, Raul Ruiz turned out to be one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers in recent years, by presenting more intellectual entertainment through artistic experimentation than any other filmmaker since Jean-Luc Godard.
Blazing his trail through his characteristic images and carefully honed sound, Ruiz is a guerrilla that, without compromise, assaults all preconceptions of cinematic art.
This frighteningly prolific figure has made over 100 films in the past 30 years, yet he has never adhered to any established filming style. He has worked in 35 mm, 16 mm and even video: making cinematic feature films, television programs for European distribution, as well as documentary films and works of fiction.
Ruiz’s career began in the vanguard theatrical movement, and between 1956 and 1962, he wrote more than 100 plays. In 1968, he completed his first film, Três Tristes Tigres (Three Sad Tigers), which immediately won him the Golden Leopard Award at the Locarno Film Festival.
By supporting the government of Salvador Allende, Ruiz was forced to abandon his country during the fascist coup of 1973. While living in exile in Paris, he was soon considered the enfant terrible of the Parisian scene. In 1983 the esteemed film magazine, Cahiers du Cinema dedicated an entire exclusive edition to him, an honour few filmmakers in the history of Global Cinema have received. The same issue praised him for his film The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (1979), calling it one of the world’s top ten films of the 1970’s, and praising Ruiz as one of the most important “French” filmmakers since Rohmer, Bresson and Godard.
Working with innovative directors of photography such as Diego Bonancia, Sacha Vierny, Henri Alekan and Ricardo Aranovitch, he brought back a bit of the magic of the French realists poetry, by exploring the worlds of manipulation, of impotence and of violence. He explores lighting, using different filters and mirrors, and thus he recreates a filmic reality, in a kind of kaleidoscope, which introduces his audience into the labyrinth of his representations and which allows us to become familiar with his fantastic exotericism.
Raul Ruíz is considered a unique hybrid in the history of cinema, he is well known among active mainstream filmmakers as a defender of the cinema of ideas, in which he is the prototype of the artisan that creates images in movement. To Ruiz, cinema is an invention, it is an alchemy where the director unites all the elements he sees fit, and constructs them through the shots he creates, the images registered in that moment, from the concepts he reinvents. The aesthetics of any given project are inherent to the work itself, and it is achieved through good directing.
Further admiration for this Master of the Cinema comes from his sheer genius: he takes on incredible cinematographic challenges and succeeds where others had thought it was impossible. One of the most significant moments of his career came in 1999, when he decided to adapt Marcel Proust’s Time Regained to the big screen, one of the world’s most prestigious literary works, that Joseph Losey and Visconti had both attempted to adapt to the cinema, and had failed. In his cult-like film, Ruiz surrounded himself with the likes of Catherine Deneuve, John Malkovich, Emmanuelle Béart, Chiara Mastroianni, and along with producer Paulo Branco, produced one of the world’s most well known movies, having been sold in 22 countries as well as shown in primetime on the most prominent international television stations. It had a theatre attendance of over 670 000 moviegoers.
And yet Ruiz has always manifested an intimacy with some of the greatest writer/thinkers of all time, having adapted their work for the big screen throughout his career. In addition to the works of PROUST, he also adapted Jean GIONO in “Les Ames Fortes” (Savage Souls); P. Calderon DE LA BARCA in La Vie est un Songe (Life is a Dream); Robert Louis STEVENSON in Treasure Island; RACINE in Bérénice; Pieree KLOSSOWSKI in La Vocation Suspendue (The Suspended Vocation) and L’Hypothese du Tableau Volé (The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting) as well as KAFKA in La Colónia Penal (The Penal Colony), all of which are absolute reference points in the history of cinema.
Raul Ruiz is renowned and acclaimed the world over, and for the past thirty years, he has been present at all the major film festivals. He has been nominated four times for the PALME D’OR (Cannes), where he has also presided on the jury, in 2002. He has won a GOLDEN LEOPARD (Locarno), a SILVER BERLIN BEAR (Berlin), and a CÉSAR (France), and was a candidate for the GOLDEN LION (Venice). He has won the FIPRESCI PRIZE in Montreal on two occasions, in 2000 and 2002. He was honoured in Rotterdam, in 2004, with a tribute entitled “Raul Ruiz: An Eternal Wanderer”, and later in 2007, at the Rome Film Festival, a tribute that included the screening of 46 of his films.
Throughout his impressive career, Ruiz has created a profound partnership with producer Paulo Branco, which began in the early 1980’s. They worked together for the first time in Portugal, and then in France. Raul Ruiz has since filmed 8 feature films in Portugal, out of a total of 14 films that were produced or co-produced by Paulo Branco. Three of these films competed among the Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival. All the Raul Ruiz’s films produced by Paulo Branco were premiered in Portugal and in France, and most of them have premiered in other territories as well, specifically their most recent collaborations.
It is extremely difficult to establish a complete filmography of Raul Ruiz, given the various formats he has experimented with, and furthermore, it is almost impossible to create an exhaustive list of his films that have competed at the film festivals all over world.
Raul Ruiz is presently involved in a theatrical adaptation of Hamlet for the Teatro a Mil Theatre Festival in January 2011. In April, 2011, he has planned to once again collaborate with Paulo Branco on a new feature film.
As in his films, the life of this filmmaker is summed up in a word: unstoppable.
- Ce Jour‐Là (2003)
- Les Âmes Fortes (2001)
- Combat d'Amour en Songe (2000)
- Comédie de L'innocence (2000)
- Le Temps Retrouvé (1999)
- Généalogies d'un Crime (1997)
- Trois Vies et une Seule Mort (1996)
- Fado Majeur et Mineur (1995)
- L´Œil Qui Ment (1992)
- L´Éveillé du Pont de l'Alma (1985)
- Les Destins de Manoel (1985)
- L'Île au Trésor (1985)