Three Sad Tigers (1968) Raul Ruiz Retrospective Viennale 2023

October 22nd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Raúl Ruiz | Drama, Chile 100′

Ruiz’s lively debut is perhaps the purest form of cinema verite and social realism, giving a fascinating snapshot of ordinary people in Chile in the late 1960s. If there was an example of the Chilean New Wave – this is it; and the film went on to win the Golden Leopard at Locarno the year after it was shot.

Inspired by a play from Alejandro Sieveking. Ruiz’ essentially plotless narrative centres on three men trying to make a decent living for themselves in pre-Allende Santiago, the rolling camera capturing the most intimate moments of their everyday activities in brief and tantalising vignettes often scored by atmospheric music or outbursts of song. Raw and charismatic Three Sad Tigers leaves a haunting impression. Ruiz incomparable technique is astounding.

The most obvious touchstone is John Cassavetes’ 1970 outing Husbands but this is a much more impressionistic look at what men get up to when left to fend for themselves during times of crisis. It also offers a sober impression of life back then. What starts as a reasonably playful affair soon turns sinister eventually descending into violence as one of the characters feels short-changed by another other. Three Sad Tigers was the first of a trio of films Ruiz made in Chile before the 1973 military coup set in motion his move to France. MT



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