Little White Dove
With Beatrice Lapido, Rodrigo Ureta, Luis Alarcón.
Chile, 1973, DCP, color, 125 min.
Spanish with English subtitles.
DCP source: Chilean Cinematheque
In 1973 Raúl Ruiz was invited by then-fledgling national film company Chilefilms to direct the biggest-budgeted Chilean feature to date, an adaptation of the best-selling eponymous novel by Enrique Lafourcade. Palomita blanca is a coming-of-age story of a young girl from a poor background who falls in love with the scion of a wealthy upper-class family. From the novel Ruiz maintained only its formulaic fairytale plot and detailed background of youth culture in the last years of the Unidad Popular, most vividly captured in a documentary-like outdoor concert scene. More striking are the ways Ruiz invented a new dimension in the story by creating richly and often self-consciously theatrical spaces to explore his career-long fascination with language as a vehicle for dizzying, and at times absurdist, performances of ineluctable meaning. Although it was designed and seemingly destined to be a popular hit— not only because of its popular source, but also because of its soundtrack by the hugely influential psychedelic and progressive rock band Las Jaivas—Palomita blanca’s September 1973 premiere was abruptly cancelled by the coup d’etat that violently upturned the country and drove Ruiz and many of his contemporaries into exile. Believed lost after the immediate closure and seizure of Chilefilms by Pinochet’s forces, almost twenty years later the negative of Palomita blanca was discovered hidden in plain sight in its original storage space and at last received a delayed premiere and rapturous reception as one of Ruiz’s first major works.