Love Torn in a Dream

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Love Torn in a Dream
Combat d'amour en songe poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byRaúl Ruiz
Produced byPaulo Branco
Written byRaúl Ruiz
StarringMelvil Poupaud
Elsa Zylberstein
Lambert Wilson
Music byJorge Arriagada
CinematographyAcácio de Almeida
Edited byValeria Sarmiento
Distributed byLe Petit Bureau
Release date
  • 2000 (2000)
Running time
123 minutes

Love Torn in a Dream (French: Combat d'amour en songe) is a 2000 film directed by Raúl Ruiz. The film's nonlinear narrative spans nine interweaving stories, most of which take place in the 17th or 18th centuries and feature fantastical characters such as pirates, nuns, young priests, a cannibal, a sultana, the Devil, and many more. To further complicate the already dizzying web of tales, many different characters are played by the same handful of actors across stories. This theme of the same individual portraying numerous identities extends beyond the limits of this one film (as many of Ruiz's themes do) and can be viewed in the larger context of Ruiz's work: for instance, lead actor Melvil Poupaud has been in several of Ruiz's films since his childhood. In 1983, at the age of ten, he starred in Ruiz's City of Pirates and went on to act in The Insomniac on the Bridge (1985), Treasure Island (1985), Three Lives and Only One Death (1996), Genealogies of a Crime (1997) and Mysteries of Lisbon (2010).

Shot in Sintra (where Ruiz had made The Territory almost 20 years previously) and produced by Gemini Films, Madroga Filmes, Canal+ and Radiotelevisao Portuguesa, among others, Love Torn in a Dream premiered in August 20000 at the Montreal World Film Festival where it won a FIPRESCI Prize. From there, it went on to be released in France in November 2000, in Portugal in May 2001, in the Netherlands in January 2002 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and in Poland in October 2002 at the Warsaw Film Festival.[1]


Opening in black and white with a puzzlingly self-aware narrated scene of Love Torn Within a Dream producer Paulo Branco welcoming the cast at a celebratory ceremony, the film quickly establishes (with the help of an illustrated configuration upon a chalkboard, one that explicitly references the theories of Ramon Lull’s ars combinatoria, one of Ruiz’s ongoing artistic preoccupations) that there are nine stories that will weave in and out of each other throughout the film: The Meditations, The Robber Mirror, Twenty Two Rings, The Healing Painting, The Discussion, The Pirate’s Treasure, The Prophetic Site, The Castle of Dreams, and The Traveling Companion. Through overlapping threads and exchanged objects, these nine stories form some supposed twelve in total, though the situation becomes increasingly jumbled and less clear as the film goes on. A handful of actors portray different characters across storylines and centuries – Lucrezia, the nun-turned mystical nymph is played by the same woman (Elsa Zylberstein) who portrays modern-day Jessica who interacts with Paul, a student disturbed by a website foretelling his future. Paul is played by the same actor (Melvil Poupaud) who plays the troubled young Catholic who discovers he is Jewish, while many pirates and thieves, corpses and even the devil exchange actors in less pronounced roles throughout the film.

Themes of a young theology student grappling with doubts over institutional ideologies and hypocrisy, the dangerous power of storytelling, shifting and self-proclaimed denial of identities, as well as piracy, charmed objects which act upon the bearers rather than the other way around, maps, and cannibalism are all recognizable as curious preoccupations and trademarks of Ruiz’s work to any seasoned fan.



Variety identified it as "witty diversion for upscale auds," perhaps hinting at the lofty, enigmatic narrative games it plays, praised it as "another sly, spry intellectual game", but complained about the excessive length of the film.[2] Les Inrockuptibles found it impossible to summarize, and suggested it was a kind of self-parody of Ruiz's earlier films.[3] Dennis Schwartz, of Ozus' World Movie Reviews, gave this "idiosyncratic film" a B- on Rotten Tomatoes, and described it as "an acting exercise to show-off the film-makers rich imagination."[4]

Love Torn in a Dream won the FIPRESCI Prize (International Press Award) in Montreal World Film Festival.[5]


Jorge Arriagada composed the music and score of this film. He has worked with Ruiz on forty-four different films since their first collaboration on Ruiz's 1977 Colloque de chiens. Arriagada is the youngest composer to have won a Guggenheim fellowship, which he did at age 29 in 1972.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Harvey, Dennis. "Review: 'Love Torn in Dream'". Variety Magazine. Variety Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  3. ^ Combat d’amour en songe, Les InRocks
  4. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. "It Veers from Being Silly to Profound". Ozus' World Movie Reviews. Ozus' World Movie Reviews. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "Awards of Montreal World Film Festival - 2000". Festival des Films Monde. Festival des Films Monde. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jorge Arriagada". IMDb. IMDb. Retrieved March 1, 2017.

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