The Wandering Soap Opera
2017, 80 minutes, Digital, NR
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Presented by: David Sterritt
Director: Raúl Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento
Distributor: The Cinema Guild
David Sterritt is a film critic, author, teacher and scholar. He is most notable for his work on Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard, and his many years as the Film Critic for The Christian Science Monitor, where, from 1968 until his retirement in 2005, he championed avant-garde cinema, theater, and music. He has a PhD in Cinema Studies from New York University and was, until 2015, chair of the National Society of Film Critics for ten years. He has also served two terms as chair of the New York Film Critics Circle and ten years as co-chair of the University Seminar on Cinema and Interdisciplinary Interpretation at Columbia University, where he taught for 25 years. He is now a film professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art and professor emeritus of theater and film at Long Island University.
Filmed by Chilean master Raúl Ruiz in 1990, but left unfinished until it was completed by his wife and collaborator Valeria Sarmiento in 2017, The Wandering Soap Opera is a dreamily interconnected series of vignettes that spoof on telenovela conventions while reflecting Ruiz’s feelings upon returning to his native Chile after more than 15 years away. In one episode, a man seduces a woman by showing her his muscles, which are actually slabs of raw meat slapped into her hand. Later, the man has a gun pulled on him when he accuses a poet of plagiarism. Meanwhile, through the television screen, five women have lost their husbands after an earthquake and embrace a better future together. All along, back and forth across screens, people are watching.
Shot in gorgeous Super 16mm and featuring one zany performance after another from a cast having the time of their lives, The Wandering Soap Opera is a glorious sendup of the telenovela, which, at the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, Ruiz called the very best lens through which to understand “Chilean reality.”
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