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Mario Ruspoli

Mario Ruspoli

"As his long friendship and association with Chris Marker might suggest, Mario Ruspoli is something of a trickster. This collection spans the Rome-born, Paris-dwelling filmmaker’s short documentaries from 1958 to 1972, which might suggest, with their rough aesthetics and salt-of-the-earth subject matter, an underrecognized adept of cinéma vérité. But closer viewing reveals each of these unassuming, humble films—composed of handheld shots of peasants and interviews with madmen in blindingly back-lit black and white—as the product of a restless, playful mind uninterested in presenting an audience with any semblance of unadorned reality, or even truth, other than the filmmaker’s own." —Clinton Krute, Film Comment

Mario Ruspoli was a photographer, writer, gastronomist, zoologist, jazz nut, student of prehistory, painting enthusiast, amateur entomologist, and an all-around adventurer, and all of these passions fed into the filmmaking activity of this prodigiously gifted documentarian. Ruspoli was born in Rome but a resident of Paris for much of his adult life, and the breadth of his curiosity and free-ranging intelligence was as great as that of his good friend Chris Marker, who wrote the commentary for Three Cheers for the Whale (1972), and the innovations that he introduced to nonfiction filmmaking are still due for proper recognition and appraisal.

And now, as OVID proudly presents sterling new restorations of his major works—The Whalers (1958, 25 min), The Earth’s Forgotten (1961, 36 min), A Look at Madness (1962, 53 min), Captive Feast (1962, 17 min), The Last Drink (1964, 22 min), Chaval (1971, 16 min), Le Chavalanthrope (1972, 10 min), and Three Cheers for the Whale (Ruspoli & Chris Marker, 1972, 17 min)—and the first-ever English translation of Florence Dauman’s Mario Ruspoli, Prince of the Whales (2011, 76 min), that rediscovery can begin.

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Mario Ruspoli
  • Mario Ruspoli, Prince of the Whales

    Directed by Florence Dauman • Documentary • With Richard Leacock,
    D.A. Pennebaker,
    Albert Maysles • 2011 • 76 minutes

    Dauman, whose father was a lifelong friend and producer of Ruspoli’s, uses her privileged perspective to produce an intimate portrait of this revolutionary but often overlooked...

  • Three Cheers for the Whale

    Directed by Chris Marker & Mario Ruspoli • Documentary • 1972 • 17 minutes

    Chronicles the history of mankind's relationship with the largest and most majestic of marine mammals, and graphically exposes their slaughter by the fishing industry.

    Chris Marker's co-director, Mario Ruspoli (1925-1986...

  • Le Chavalanthrope

    Directed by Mario Ruspoli • Documentary • 1972 • 10 minutes

    A tribute to Ruspoli’s longtime friend, the humorist and cartoonist Chaval, made after his suicide in 1968.

  • Chaval

    Directed by Mario Ruspoli • Documentary • 1971 • 16 minutes

    A tribute to Ruspoli’s longtime friend, the humorist and cartoonist Chaval, made after his suicide in 1968.

  • The Last Drink

    Directed by Mario Ruspoli • Documentary • 1964 • 22 minutes

    The Last Drink documents the process of detox treatments at a hospital in Bordeaux.

  • A Look at Madness / Captive Feast

    Directed by Mario Ruspoli • Documentary • With Dr. François Tosquelles • 1962 • 53 minutes

    Ruspoli had a standing interest in isolated and marginal communities, very much on display in films he shot in Lozère, in France’s rugged, unforgiving south. In A LOOK AT MADNESS and CAPTIVE FEAST, it’s pa...

  • The Earth’s Forgotten

    Directed by Mario Ruspoli • Documentary • 1961 • 36 minutes

    Ruspoli had a standing interest in isolated and marginal communities, very much on display in three films he shot in Lozère, in France’s rugged, unforgiving south. In The Earth’s Forgotten, the subjects are peasants eking out a subsiste...

  • The Whalers

    Directed by Mario Ruspoli • Documentary • 1958 • 25 minutes

    A vanguard short that displays the range of Mario Ruspoli’s insatiable curiosity and the depth of his talents: The Whalers, an influential portrait of the last whale fishermen, living in the Azores, to work with harpoons.