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Three Lives and Only One Death (1996)

Trois vies et une seule mort (original title)
Take a walk into the weird world of filmmaker Raul Ruiz as he takes us to Paris for a twisted ride. A man which shares four names and four personalities (which is the real one?) is the link... See full summary »


2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mateo Strano / Georges Vickers / Butler / Luc Allamand
Maria Gabri-Colosso, "Tania la Corse"
Jean-Yves Gautier ...
Jacques Pieiller ...
Tania's Husband
Pierre Bellemare ...
Radio Narrator
Smaïn ...
Bum #1
Roland Topor ...
Bum #2
Jacques Delpi ...
Bum #3
Jean Badin ...
Antoine José


Take a walk into the weird world of filmmaker Raul Ruiz as he takes us to Paris for a twisted ride. A man which shares four names and four personalities (which is the real one?) is the link between four different, yet similar, stories involving love, lust, crime, and time. Written by Steve Richer <sricher@sympatico.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Crime


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Release Date:

11 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Three Lives and Only One Death  »

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Did You Know?


Last filmed starring by Marcello Mastroianni that was released before his death in 1996. See more »


Radio Announcer: Extreme happiness is a form of misery.
See more »


References Alphaville (1965) See more »


An die Musik, D.547
Words by Franz von Schober
Music by Franz Schubert
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User Reviews

Three scaffolds and no edifice to support
9 July 2011 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

With his work in the 80's Ruiz managed to cast upon the French conundrums about time and reality an oblique, dreamlike light. A light that diffused the essay into heady magic, into shadow play that was dangerous and sultry with the impossible. He would see Welles from the other side of the mirror, from the fictional looking in.

None of that here, instead dry vignettes like a French Bunuel. Some wit and irreverence and a few touches about convergent realities that remind of his earlier films are lost in too much transparence.

The structure is reminiscent of something he would do. A surreal comedy where Marcello Mastroyanni is three different characters. All three stories are framed by a narrator reading them for a radio program. Eventually the three lives converge, worlds overlap under a single author who weaves himself in fictions that inexplicably become real, but they converge and overlap too late and no real sparks fly.

Whereas earlier Ruiz trusted intuition to take him to the place where ideas mean things, here he starts from ideas and structures as he goes on. It is all scaffold, elaborate, suffocating scaffold, with no edifice to support. Ideas cast adrift without anchor. Compare with the richness of his 80's films about sailing inwards.

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