Raoul Ruiz

I'm sorry, but she's not the star...

With very rare exceptions in North America, serial productions made for TV in Europe are on occasion released to cinemas in easier to digest morsels for international audiences, of which Ingmar Bergman may be king of the mini-series.

His roster of TV productions edited down into feature-length versions include Scenes from a Marriage (1973), cut down from 5 hours to 2.5; Face to Face (1976), 3.5 hours distilled to 2.25; and Fanny & Alexander (1978), reduced from 5 hours to an Oscar-winning 3 hour version.

More recently, the 3-part crime drama based on Stig Larsson’s first three Millenium novels  - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (all 2009) - were theatrical distillations of a longer 6-part series than ran on Swedish TV, and Olivier Assayas’ Carlos (2010) was similarly knocked down from 5 hours to just under 3 for cinemas.

... They are.

So there’s nothing unusual with Mysteries of Lisbon / Mist√©rios de Lisboa [M] (2010), Raoul Ruiz’ epic of unfortunate circumstances and poor social behaviour, which has been condensed into a 4 hour feature film from a 6 part Portuguese TV mini-series. I’ve uploaded a review that addresses its pros and cons at being shorter, and a link to a French interview with Ruiz, conducted a few months prior to his death.

As a film, the pacing is variable in spots, but as an HD experience, it’s absolutely stunning, with Ruiz’ deceptively simple visual style paying off on the big screen. The film begins its run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox November 11, with a 10 minute intermission, but you might want to avoid heavy coffee consumption that day.

Just a suggestion.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor
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