At one level a parody of contemporary Western man’s remoteness from the pre-industrial Third World, the film is no less a comedy about the anthropological peculiarities of his own tribal customs, intellectual and otherwise. But this theme in turn is intermittently interrupted or at least complicated by purely visual explorations in colour, composition, perspective, texture and camera placement which pursue the language theme through formal metaphors.
Amber filters and painterly compositions present handsome tableaux with little in the way of traditional “film grammar”. Within a dialogue exchange, Ruiz is as likely to cut to an eerie, static shot of the manor (endlessly repeated) as he is to an overhead shot of the participants. Oneiric, soft imagery echoes and supports the streams of different tongues flowing in and out of one another. Meanings both visual and verbal radiate into the ether, producing a chaos of atoms unwilling to coalesce.