Raúl Ruiz: An Annotated Filmography

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The Golden Boat (USA, 1990)

Raúl Ruiz

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When I came to teach at Harvard, I had the idea of trying an experiment with American TV. So I asked my students to watch television and try to come up with parodies of what they saw, using the aberrations and monstrous qualities of TV as poetic elements.

I began to watch television in order to study the iconography of American TV. Then I started watching Mexican soap operas on the cable channels. One day after watching two or three soap operas, I decided to write something using the rhythms of soap operas about some experiences I had many years ago while living in New York. I tried to use the dialogue of soap operas as a kind of music.

I started writing very quickly and tried to finish the script in forty-eight hours, so as not to allow myself the possibility of playing too many games with the dialogue (which is my natural tendency). I didnít succeed, but I tried.

My ideas was to make a sort of Mexican soap opera, incorporating elements from many sources, including Macedonio Fernandez and a nineteenth century Spanish melodrama called My Son, the Doctor. I was amazed by the narrative structure of the Mexican melodrama, which was the opposite of an American soap opera. Mexican melodramas use the structure of nineteenth century European melodrama, in which the main character never conducts the action but is instead moved by the action.

Itís a logic governed by miracles. The story proceeds by a sort of chemical reaction between the character and the forces that are against him. He is trapped against a wall and this wall is magnetic, so he escapes. He never tries to destroy the wall or to open the door Ė to beat the forces that are against him. There is a deification and exaltation of chance, of hasard.

 

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© Raúl Ruiz 1990, adapted from an interview with Ethan Spigland in Persistence of Vision.
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