At bottom I am speaking of nothing other than a cinema capable of inventing a new grammar each time it goes from one world to the next, capable of producing a unique emotion before every thing, every animal, every plant, simply by modifying the parameters of space and time. But this implies a constant practice of both attention and detachment, an ability to enter into the act of filming and return an instant afterward to passive contemplation. In short, a cinema capable of accounting, above all, for the varieties of experience in the sensible world. Easily said….

– Raúl Ruiz, Poetics of Cinema (Éditions Dis Voir, 2005), pp. 89-90


I just caught up with the news that Raúl Ruiz died this past week.

See Catherine Grant‘s nice collection of links, Adrian Martin‘s and Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s tributes, the MUBI Daily’s profile, and A. O. Scott’s recent New York Times piece on him. Three Crowns of a Sailor, which you can watch here, dazzled me years ago; it’s somewhere in Guy-Maddin-meets-Borges territory. Another favorite was The Territory.

Another favorite quote:

Evocation, invocation: the two functions of the moving image can be complementary. On one hand, mechanical evocation of events that have already taken place or that will take place, that belong to other worlds even if these other worlds themselves are films, gods already dead or waiting to be born. On the other, invocation of eternal events (cf. Whitehead): perpetual recreation in a state of constant regeneration or decay. In this commerce with the beyond, the film invites us on a voyage along a subterranean river; from our boat we glimpse figures bodied forth from the other world, deformed figures that would be invisible without the darkness. Illuminated figures whose epiphany dwells in the shadows, in shadowy forms whose origin is in forms darker still; shadows bearing the seeds of all form.

By voicing these two modern ideas, I seek not so much to lend prestige to our trade as to revive a debate which dates back to the early days of cinema and remains unresolved: to fabricate an image, should one begin with a backdrop plunged into darkness, or with one so brightly illuminated that all the shadows have been chased away?

Poetics of Cinema, p. 114

It’s a rare filmmaker who can theorize his work as well as Ruiz did (under the rubric of a “shamanic cinema,” no less) and even quote Whitehead to support it. (Good choice of philosopher.)

And then there’s this blog post from over a year ago, which, when I read the title, I was sure said “Dead artist, #10.” And I thought “why #10?”

May he live on.


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