Mysteries of Raúl Ruiz's Portugal: Territory, Littoral, City and Memory Bridge

Goddard, M N. 2017. Mysteries of Raúl Ruiz's Portugal: Territory, Littoral, City and Memory Bridge. In: Mariana Liz, ed. Portugal's Global Cinema: Industry, History and Culture. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9781784531980 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Raúl Ruiz’s 2010 film Mistérios de Lisboa/Mysteries of Lisbon may have been his first (and last) film in Portuguese, but it was far from being his first film in Portugal. In fact Portugal, beyond being an inexpensive and convenient film location, held a special significance in Ruiz’s work from the 1980s onwards. In an interview conducted not long before his death, Ruiz referred to Portugal, the location for a number of his films from the 1980s to Mysteries of Lisbon, as a bridge, meaning a passage from his exilic European present to his Chilean past of memory (in Goddard 2013: 171-184). This chapter will focus on Ruiz’s films made in Portugal, especially Mysteries of Lisbon, but also refer to some key earlier films like The Territory (1980) and La ville des pirates/City of Pirates (1983). It will show how they function as oneiric mnemotechnical passages for actualizing a phantom Chile, operating by means of a common Southwestern Littoral, however geographically, linguistically and temporally displaced. As such this chapter will also engage with the idea of cinema as a mnemotechnical machine, foregrounded so memorably in Mémoire des apparences/Memory of Appearances (1986) and operative in the spectral logics of many of Ruiz’s films, especially City of Pirates, which was originally going to be named ‘Impressions of Chile’. Mysteries of Lisbon would then be the culmination of this mmemotechnical series of films made in the space of passage of Ruiz’s Portugal, but giving it new dimensions via its engagement with Portuguese language, literature and culture. If Mysteries of Lisbon is indeed Ruiz’s only obvious contribution to Portuguese cinema, it is nevertheless necessarily a highly transnational and displaced one that situates Portugal as a space of passage between France, Brazil and ultimately as still mysteriously linked to Chile.

Item Type:

Book Section


Raúl Ruiz

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


13 November 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

11 Nov 2022 15:02

Last Modified:

11 Nov 2022 15:03


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