Isidore is a servant in a small Portuguese town in the seaside arrives from who knows where a mysterious child, Malo, the young woman later discovered that he murdered his entire family. Together, they will kill the fiance of Isidore, then go to an island almost deserted. Isidore is taken prisoner by a multifaceted character, Toby, who is transformed by turns in all family members. Freed, the girl can become the mistress of the castle pirates and marry Toby. But when she finishes them, she finds Malo and winds through all three residents of the island, the child murderer, the maid and Toby who is a ghost. –cineressources.net
Chilean filmmaker Raúl, or Raoul, Ruiz (1941-2011) was one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers to emerge from 1960s World Cinema, providing more intellectual fun and artistic experimentation, shot for shot, than any filmmaker since Jean-Luc Godard. A guerrilla who uncompromisingly assaulted the preconceptions of film art, this frightfully prolific figure – he made over 100 films in 40 years – did not adhere to any one style of filmmaking. He worked in 35mm, 16mm and video, for theatrical release and for European TV, and on documentary and fiction features and shorts. His career began in avant-garde theatre where, between 1956 and 1962, he wrote over 100 plays. Although he never directed any of these productions, he did dabble in TV and filmmaking in the early 1960s. In 1968, with the release of his first completed feature, the Cassavetes-like Tres tristes tigres (1968… read more
Despite the title, there are no pirates anywhere in this movie. Not a single one. In fact, why is the movie called City of Pirates when the location is actually the Isle of Pirates? Your guess is as good as mine. Ruiz's movie plays out like a fairy tale with no real discernible plot, at least not in the traditional beginning-middle-end sense of the word. City of Pirates is ostensibly about Isidore, the maid/adopted daughter of a family living in a seaside Portuguese town (the film for some reason is said to be set a week before the Carnation Revolution/end of the colonial war, but why this setting, I have no idea, as it is only mentioned offhand once in the film) who one night finds a homicidal ten-year old boy living in her closet. Together they kill the father and her fiance and flee to the Isle of Pirates where Isidore is kidnapped by a man named Toby who in turn is all the members of his family. And that is about it. Ruiz's film is more of a collage of dreams, memories, narration, music, and images of the most striking variety (one in particular has the camera placed inside a man's mouth looking out). It is by turns hypnotic, pretentious, beautiful, maddening, enthralling, and boring. In the world of Euro-art cinema Ruiz has no equals. Why he still remains so under-appreciated is a mystery to me. I want to live inside of this film.
A statement by Ruiz on his “last movie,” La noche de enfrente, and a moving article about Ruiz written by the film’s producer.
Memories of On Top of the Whale (1982), City of Pirates (1983) and others by Ruiz in our continuing tribute to the Chilean master.
Jorge Arriagada’s collaboration with Raúl Ruiz is one of cinema’s most fruitful, varied and extensive composer-director partnerships.