In 1983, Serge Toubiana wrote in Le Cas Ruiz, his introductory text for Cahiers du Cinéma no. 345, devoted to Raúl Ruiz: "The most prolific filmmaker of our time, whose filmography is 'almost' impossible to define, such is the diversity, splendour and multiplicity of his achievements over more than twenty years. Achieving international recognition in the late 1970s, Raúl Ruiz proved to be one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers of his time, displaying more intellectual diversity and artistic experimentation than any filmmaker since Jean-Luc Godard.
Ruiz, after supporting the government of Salvador Allende, was forced to abandon his country during the fascist coup of 1973. Influenced by the fabulist tradition that runs through much of Latin American literature (Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges and Alfonso Reyes), Ruiz is a poet of fantastic images whose films slide effortlessly from the real to the imaginary and back again. A manipulator of wild and intellectual games in which the rules are always changing, Ruiz's techniques are as diverse as his films. In this cinematic Tower of Babel, where languages and forms go hand in hand, mixing, fighting or sometimes harmonising, we recognise the foundations of an organisation of images that favour the emergence of a different spectator. In the course of an extremely prolific career - more than 100 films made in 30 years - this jack-of-all-trades has worked on documentaries as well as fictional works, both for theatrical releases and for European television.
Admiration for the work of this master filmmaker also stems from the genius with which he accepts and implements, with commendable merit, cinematic challenges that seemed impossible to many. Three Lives and One Death, in which Marcello Mastroianni plays three characters at once, Genealogies of a Crime, which takes on a sulphurous news item, Time Regained, based on Proust's novel, which was deemed unsuitable, and The Mysteries of Lisbon, a whirlwind of soap operas lasting almost four and a half hours, are perfect illustrations. These films also underline the eminently accessible and popular aspect of Ruiz's cinema: in France, Le Temps retrouvé and Les Mystères de Lisbonne, despite their long running time, attracted more than 350,000 and 100,000 spectators respectively.