Students commit mad and meaningless acts, sailors tell the tallest stories. When one of the former, having murdered his tutor, meets one of the latter at the start of Ruiz's film, the images are in muddy green sepia; but as the sailor begins his extraordinary life story - listening is his price for granting the youth safe passage on a departing ship - the movie becomes literally and figuratively more colourful. Story piles upon story, scenes grow vivid and dissolve, characters come and go as in a dream. No one speaks or behaves as they would in 'real life', for that is neither the territory nor the objective of Ruiz's cinema; his is a hypothetical world, governed by the reversal of narrative expectations. The sailor's tale begins in Valparaiso, and revisits in flashback the various ports of call in a lifetime's voyaging, each of which yields its own strange story. The elements of the sailor's yarn are timeless and universal: family ties, journeying away from home, sex, violence, and death. Ruiz conjures them into a poetic parable on the theme of debts long unpaid and finally called in... A vigorous imagination is at work here in the tradition of Cocteau, Fellini, Tarkovsky; open your eyes and your mind to it. A dream of a picture, in every sense.