Wandering Soap Opera
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The Wandering Soap Opera
Filmed by Chilean master Raúl Ruiz in 1990 but left unfinished until it was completed by his wife and collaborator Valeria Sarmiento in 2017, The Wandering Soap Opera is a dreamily interconnected series of vignettes that spoof telenovela conventions while reflecting Ruiz's feelings upon returning to his native Chile after more than 15 years away. In one episode, a man seduces a woman by showing her his muscles, which are actually slabs of raw meat slapped into her hand. Later, the man has a gun pulled on him when he accuses a poet of plagiarism. Meanwhile, through the television screen, five women have lost their husbands after an earthquake and embrace a better future together. All along, back and forth across screens, people are watching.
Shot in gorgeous Super 16mm and featuring one zany performance after another from a cast having the time of their lives, The Wandering Soap Opera is a glorious sendup of the telenovela, which, at the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, Ruiz called the very best lens through which to understand "Chilean reality."
"Clearly relishing the stylistic leeway afforded by the genre—the film’s prismatic color palette and exaggerated decoupage provide enough aesthetic pleasures to make one mourn yet again the absence of one of cinema’s great stylists—Ruiz takes as fanciful an approach to the film’s visual design as he does its object of critique." - Jordan Cronk , Film Comment
"A gift for Ruiz fans! In a somewhat Borgesian paradox, which seems entirely characteristic, the film can be seen as a sort of sequel to the director’s actual final film, Night Across the Street"
- Jonathan Romney, Film Comment
"The purest and deepest of cinema's dreams. I could luxuriate in this film's environs forever! The completion of this work is a major event in the history of fun!" - Guy Maddin
The prolific filmmaker Raúl Ruiz left his native Chile after the 1973 military coup and found refuge in France, where he lived until his death, at 70, in 2011. In 1990, at the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, Ruiz returned to his homeland to work on a project called (in English translation) ...