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DIALOGUES OF THE EXILED (DIALOGOS DE EXILIADOS)(director/writer: Raul Ruiz; cinematographer: Gilberto Azevedo; editor: Valeria Sarmiento; cast: Francoise Arnoul, Carla Cristi, Daniel Gelin, Sergio Hernandez, Percy Matas; Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Percy Matas/Raul Ruiz; Facets; 1975-France-in Spanish and French with English subtitles)
This minor Ruiz film was the first film on the Chilean exiles.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Chilean-born director Raul Ruiz (“On Top Of The Whale”/”Three Crowns Of The Sailor”/”Time Regained”), an exile in France, shot in three-weeks a low-budget semi-documentary in Paris that was constructed like a play and was inspired from playwright Bertold Brecht’s Refugee Conversations.

“The best school for dialectics is emigration. The most penetrating dialecticians are exiles. There are changes that have forced them into exile, and they are interested only in changes. From minute signs they deduce the most fantastic events, on condition, of course, that they are able to reflect on them. If their adversaries win the day, the exiles calculate the price that they will have to pay for that victory, and the contradictions they have unwittingly brought to light.”

Bertold Brecht, Refugee Conversations

The film’s purpose is to explore what’s in store for exiles, which is glimpsed at through chronicling the conversations Ruiz’s non-professional actors, who happen to be real exiles, have as they go from house to house visiting each other. The exiles all try to cling to their Chilean roots and customs, but despite their relative comfort (some live in cramped quarters) reveal how difficult it is to learn a new language, get a work permit, a job and to blend into French society.

The exiles view themselves as socialists and chatter about their resistance movement to counter the rightist military junta under Pinochet, who overthrew with CIA help the democratically elected government of Chile. They converse about their kidnapping of Sergio Hernandez, a Chilean pop singer, now in Paris, without force, who they hope to win over by treating him warmly as a friend, a fellow Chilean and by feeding him delicious food.

The exiles feel safer in Paris, where they are among comrades and out of harm’s way.

Ruiz in a lighthearted way derives a wry humor out of prodding them with their foibles, as the film gets its edge because it’s not totally scripted but spontaneous and unpredictable veering between fiction and documentary.

This minor Ruiz film was the first film on the Chilean exiles. It was not well-received by the exile community, who did not like the way some were portrayed on camera as being corrupt, still holding grudges against their fellow exiles from their Chilean days, being racist and reactionary. While Ruiz is not above including himself as one who also must act more bravely to stop fascism through more provocative dialogue, he can’t help laughing at himself and the others who take themselves so seriously. If nothing else, it’s at least an honest and good-humored take on these particular exiles, who share many of the same plights as most exiles–who dream of returning to their native country and can’t stop from identifying with that country.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”