Nucingen Haus

  • 94'
  • France
  • 2008
In the world of Raúl Ruiz, it isn't strange if a house in Chile has a sign hanging up stating 'only French spoken'. People shouldn't be surprised by ghostly apparitions, a confusing sense of time and camera movements leading nowhere.
The only one repeatedly surprised is William Henry James III (Jean-Marc Barr) who, with his wife (Elsa Zylberstein), is the new French owner of the house. The servants receive him with suspicion and idiosyncrasy. One laughs exaggeratedly at the most unexpected moments, another runs past through the classically decorated corridors. ‘As my father said,’ a voice-over narrates in a reference to a famous film quote, ‘if you have to choose between legend and history, always choose legend.’
And that's what Ruiz does with Nucingen Haus, freely based on a story by Balzac. There are vampires, clocks that stop, doors that suddenly slam, screaming women in nightdresses and lavish décors. Those meticulous sets, alongside the costumes and the studied behaviour of most characters, evoke a theatrical mood. This is amplified by alienating absurdism, such as the group of peasants standing quietly in a corner and the repeated zooming of invisible flies. The camera floats almost autonomously through it all: it comes closer, withdraws or turns away slowly at the end of a scene. It creates a world between waking and dreaming - or nightmare.

Director
Raúl Ruiz
Country of production
France
Production Year
2008
Festival Edition
IFFR 2009
Length
94'
Medium
Betacam Digi PAL
Language
French
Producers
François Margolin, Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre, Martine Clermont-Tonnerre
Production Companies
Margo Cinema, MACT Productions
Sales
Urban Distribution International
Screenplay
Raúl Ruiz
Cinematography
Inti Briones, Jacques Bouquin
Editor
Béatrice Clericco
Production Design
Raúl Ruiz, Veronica Astudillo
Sound Design
Claire-Anne Largeron
Music
Jorge Arriagada
Cast
Luis Mora, Miriam Heard, Elsa Zylberstein, Jean-Marc Barr