Alejandro G. Iñárritu interview: ‘Bardo’ director
“There is nothing to understand, there’s a lot to feel,” declares Alejandro G. Iñárritu about his ambitious and deeply personal new film “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.” For our recent webchat he adds, “If you want to understand, there’s nothing to understand, just shut up your mind and let yourself go, and go with the dream. When people do that, they use art to be transported. That’s how cinema started in the first place. Then narrative and storytelling was added to the equation, but it’s not necessarily the only possibility of cinema,” he explains. “This is not an autobiography. This is a fictionalized exercise, a very personal and intimate experience to get us into this labyrinthine way that our memory works,” he notes, adding that he “wanted to establish that this was a journey in the mental landscape of a character that is navigating between truth and fiction.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Iñárritu directed, produced, edited and co-composed the score for the epic fantasy, which he co-wrote with Nicolás Giacobone (with whom he previously collaborated on the Oscar-winning script for “Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” alongside Armando Bo and Alexander Dinelaris Jr.). The epic dramedy is an ambitious hallucinogenic fantasy that contemplates life and death, memory and mortality, starring Daniel Giménez Cacho and Griselda Siciliani as renowned Mexican journalist and documentarian Silverio and his wife Lucía. They live a comfortable life in Los Angeles with their teenage children Camila (Ximena Lamadrid) and Lorenzo (Iker Sanchez Solano), but remain haunted by the death of their first son Mateo who died a day after his birth. Upon Silverio’s return to Mexico to accept a prestigious award, he suffers an existential crisis that takes him on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment in the form of dreamlike visions as he confronts questions about his identity, his familial relationships and the troubled history of the country of his birth.
The subversive “Bardo” is the Mexican entry for Best International Feature Film at this year’s Oscars, the third film from Iñárritu to represent his homeland after two of his previous features have been nominated — “Amores perros” in 2000 and “Biutiful” in 2010. If nominated, “Bardo” would be the tenth film to represent Mexico in the category, which Alfonso Cuaron‘s “Roma” won in 2018, the first and only time that Mexico has triumphed in the category. Iñárritu is one of the most decorated filmmakers of the modern era, having won four Oscars (three for “Birdman” in 2015 including Best Picture as a producer, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director) and Best Director for “The Revenant” the following year, becoming only the third director ever to win back-to-back directing.
The film is somewhat of a departure for Iñárritu, because it is less constrained by a traditional narrative structure than his previous films. For Iñárritu, it’s counterproductive to fixate on how an audience is going to react and whether or not they’ll understand what he is trying to achieve because he is inviting the audience to enter this waking dream (or nightmare, depending on your perspective), realized through Silverio’s encounters throughout the film that go from intimate, emotional interludes to spectacular set pieces. “What I wanted was to create an experience, a cinematic experience, to let yourself go,” he explains. “I think people, when they go in with their mind, well the mind is the enemy. If you go into ‘Bardo’ demanding or finding storytelling and structures and plots, then you will fight with this film to death and you will be very irritated, naturally. And that’s okay too. That’s okay. That’s an emotion,” he says with a knowing smile.