Synopsis by Judd Blaise
On Top of the Whale, one of the best-known films by acclaimed director Raul Ruiz, is an allegorical exploration of language and the conflicts between cultures. The setting is the world of the near future; the film begins in Holland, which, like several other European nations, has become a communist republic. An anthropologist, specializing in the study of primitive tribes, is introduced by his wife to the powerful millionaire Narcisso Cambos. Narcisso invites them to stay at his estate in Patagonia, which he claims is also home to the last two surviving members of an ancient Indian tribe, generally thought extinct. The anthropologist accepts and begins to study the tribesmen -- an inseparable pair named Adam and Eden. He becomes consumed by the mysteries of their culture, their behavior, and especially their language, which appears to consist of only 60 words. Meanwhile, the possible revival of a former relationship between his wife and Narcisso threatens his marriage. Though occasionally punctuated by monochrome cinematography and surrealistic imagery, On Top of the Whale is more linear than much of Ruiz's later work, relying on a sparse directness that gives the film a provocative, fable-like ambiguity.
anthropology, research, tribe, language, last-man, culture [social culture], extramarital-affair