City of Pirates Screen 4 articles

City of Pirates

1983

City of Pirates Poster
  • From this meticulous micro obfuscation, City of Pirates expands its deliberate scrambling of basic information to make it effectively impossible to understand what we're seeing on a macro narrative level. It's possible to look at one scene and construct a sensical narrative that would precede and succeed it, but it's impossible to figure out how one scene flows into another; it's like watching a series of scenes snipped out from different movies strung together by some obscure design.

  • If it is useful to map out this constellation of congruencies – in an attempt to extend not empty the richness of Ruiz’s work – then perhaps City of Pirates should be read as a film fantastique, sharing something of the trance-like, morbid poetry of Maya Deren and the paranoid Manicheism of English SF cinema of the early ‘60s.

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    The Chicago Reader: Dave Kehr
    January 25, 1985 | When Movies Mattered (pp.190-193)

    I think that what matters for Ruiz is the beautiful blurrings of sense that his story creates. Each image is the product of so many different associations and connections that it becomes, in a way, unmoored. The overburdened images overwhelm their referents and float free. Losing their centeredness, their core of meaning, the images are liberated from the system of language; they no longer occupy fixed positions in a hierarchy of meaning, but are free to signify everything and nothing.

  • Pretty much every image, effect or edit in City of Pirates is a worthy contender for the title of “definitive Raul Ruiz moment” (that might just be why City of Pirates is, well, the definitive Raul Ruiz movie). Take, for example, the infamous head in the suitcase: the stuff of nightmares, presented in the most mundane way possible, with a lilting, muzakish cha cha by Jorge Arriagada (cinema’s most subversive composer) taking the scene somewhere beyond mere non-sequitur.

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