Hotline: 90170160
Promoting film as art and entertainment since 1958

World Cinema Series: City of Pirates

When 12 July 2011 (Tuesday), 7:30 pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

Free admission but members only -- flash your membership card to go in. You may bring up to 2 guests if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Non-members may sign up online or at the door -- we will issue membership on the spot. No tickets will be sold. Free seating. Seats are limited.


City of Pirates (La Ville des Pirates)
By Raúl Ruiz

1983 | France, Portugal | 111 min | 35mm | PG

In French with English subtitles



Raul Ruiz's City of Pirates is a meditation on the precariousness, loneliness and horrors of exile that delves right into a subconscious plane in which desires run rampant without the comfort and certainty of reason. It must be considered one of Ruiz's most intensely surrealistic films that sums up his mastery and skilful manipulation of the inherently dreamlike quality of the cinematic medium. 

The film was made after Ruiz's trip back to Chile after years of political exile. Witnessing his friends complacency within a military dictatorship induced a severe melancholy in Ruiz as he grapples with the realisation that the landscape of his childhood has been forever displaced as a memory, a shadow sinking into the sea. In City of Pirates, this malady is distilled into a ghostly melodrama set in an otherly space, an island stranded in some distant shore. 

In this surreal dreamscape, the wandering mediumistic Isidore (played by Anne Alvaro) encounters mysterious characters, such as Malo the murderous child vampire with a strict diet of garlic (played by the charming young Melvil Poupaud), who exist as caricatures of their desires and impulses in search of a lost object, longing for an impossible communion, a moment of catharsis.

Ruiz's eye for the peculiar, his perverse sense of humour and his will to push the limits of cinema is most evident in City of Pirates. It resonates through cinematic devices such as chromatic switches in colour and a ceaseless exploration of odd angles that confuses the perception of space. While conjuring an uncanny and horrific sense of dread, City of Pirates is not without playfulness and prankishness that characterises Ruiz's cinema as a joyful affirmation of its exilic and illegitimate status apart from the conventions of cinema and the rigidity of being.