The Territory

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The Territory
Directed by Raúl Ruiz
Produced by Paulo Branco
Roger Corman
Written by Raúl Ruiz
Gilbert Adair
Starring Isabelle Weingarten
Music by Jorge Arriagada
Cinematography Henri Alekan
Acácio de Almeida
Edited by Claudio Martinez
Valeria Sarmiento
Release date
  • 1981 (1981)
Running time
100 minutes
Country Portugal
Language English

The Territory (Portuguese: O Território) is a 1981 Portuguese drama film directed by Raúl Ruiz.[1][2]

Raúl Ruiz’s 1981 film, “The Territory,” is about the cannibalistic and animalistic nature of humans when they disregard their “civilized” instincts. Two American families vacationing in Europe begin as tourists and turn into cannibals, after getting lost on a camping trip in the South of France.[3]

Though set in France, the film was filmed in Portugal.[3] Co-written by Gilbert Adair and Raúl Ruiz, the film utilizes themes of “exile and crossing boundaries: of language, nation and morality”.[3] The film hints that the reason the families are able to become cannibals is because they, “are succumbing to the power of ancient primitive spirits inhabiting the region.”[3] The family slowly descends into a sort of madness as they continually search for an exit from the area, to no avail. They run into a pair of gentlemen, eating and drinking wine with plenty to spare, yet they give up on their help, due to the language barrier. Eventually, they begin to eat each other one by one, until they are rescued. In the end, the sole survivor sells the story as a book and regrets the decision. Now, the three survivors are “celebrities” and constantly chased down for autographs and such, ostracizing them from society, still. In the end, two of the survivors go missing, hinting towards a feeling of isolation and otherness as they are no longer cannibals, yet feel “othered” by the society which does not practice cannibalism. This represents a very strong tie to Ruiz’s sense of otherness as an exile—distanced from his own country and yet distanced towards each culture he takes on.The film is experimental in its attempts at color, and sense of location.German Helmer Wim Wenders then “‘borrowed’ the cast and techniques to make ‘The State of Things,’ also shot in Portugal.[4]

The circumstances in which the film was produced have been questioned, with no real answers brought forth. Gilbert Adair, himself, is known to have claimed that the film was made under, “‘hair-rasing’ conditions”. [5] “The film seems to be shrouded in a kind of mystery concerning its production, for example, concerning the involvement of Rodger Corman.”[5] This idea gives an interesting perspective, then, on the film that was made by Wenders, perhaps as a commentary to the circumstances of filming this film.



In a 1983 LA Times Newspaper, author, Len, describes the film as being noteworthy for its expression in its use of colour.[4] Asides from the film's color, Len then continues to describe the film as having "little that distinguishes this vacuous tale about a group of young Americans who get lost during a hike in a large national park and are reduced to cannibalism to survive."[4] Len praises Ruiz as a talented Chilean writer/director, established in France after his exile from Chile in 1974. "Macabre humor, surrealism and metaphysics are part of the non-realistic narrative, but the whole suffers irremediably from its transparent symbolic effects and the outrageously goofy performances."[4]


  1. ^ "Le Cinéma de Raoul Ruiz: Territory". Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  2. ^ "NY Times: Territory". NY Retrieved 27 October 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Movie Review - - Review/Film; Having Mother For Dinner -". Retrieved 2017-02-03. 
  4. ^ a b c d "CruzID Gold Login". Retrieved 2017-02-03. 
  5. ^ a b Goddard, Michael (2013). The Cinema of Raúl Ruiz: Impossible Cartogrophies. Wallflower Press. p. 65. 

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