Dialogues of the Exiled (1975), Raul Ruiz’s first feature after fleeing the military coup in Chile, debuts on DVD from Facets. I review the DVD for Turner Classic Movies.
Raul Ruiz is best known for the multi-faceted stories, elegant style and densely-designed narratives of films like The hypothesis of the Stolen Painting, Three Crowns of the Sailor, Three Lives and Only One Death and his adaptation of Marcel Proust’s Time Regained. This early feature, shot on 16mm film on a shoestring budget, has little of the style—it’s constructed from a series of conversations, most taken in a single long take, shot in a variety of apartments and a couple of street scenes—but much of the humor and satire seen in later films. The film begins with a series of short conversations on Paris streets between Chilean exiles and French citizens (and others), but soon circles around the Chilean community of mostly political activists and leftists who band together for friendship, for political action, for survival. They apply for asylum, reach out to the French Communist Party for assistance, give interviews to French journalists and government social workers, and reach out to find lodgings for the growing community. One scene ends with parade of bodies and suitcases into a tiny apartment, squeezing more people into room until the floor is filled with bodies squeezed together like sardines, a serious issue illustrated with comic flair.