Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths: Alejandro G. Iñárritu Shares Inspirations Behind

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the four-time Oscar winning director, shares the literature, music and cinema that fed into his latest black comedy.

 

 

Alejandro Gonzalez
Alejandro Gonzalez MIKE MARSLAND/WIREIMAGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Netflix’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, Daniel Giménez Cacho stars as Silverio Gama, a documentarian who is set to receive a prestigious award for his career as a journalist upon his return to his native Mexico after living with his family in Los Angeles for decades.

The black comedy, which is Mexico’s official Oscar submission for best intenrational feature, is a personal project from four-time Oscar-winning writer-director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who likens his latest film to the Mexican soup called pozole — “a mix of an enormous amount of things” — that speaks to the shared loneliness of the immigrant experience, particularly for those who feel without a homeland.

The film sees Gama weaving throughout his own memories and the present day as well as interacting with figures central to Mexico’s history and culture.

In writing the film’s script, Iñárritu turned to “the great auteurs” of Latin American literature, writers Octavio Paz, Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez, whom he describes as “outsiders who took the world by storm” with their literary achievements.

The music of his youth, particularly concept albums from prog rock bands like Pink Floyd and Genesis, also worked their way into Iñárritu’s dreamlike film, as did the work of Spanish director Luis Buñuel and American photographer Vivian Maier.

Vivian Maier

VIVIAN MAIER The Chicago-based photographer, whose prolific work was discovered shortly before her death in 2009, captured hundreds of thousands of images of everyday people she encountered while exploring the Midwestern city. While most of her work was in black and white, Iñárritu says that her color photographs inspired the film’s palette, particularly during its more ethereal moments.
Vivian Maier CHRIS WALKER/CHICAGO TRIBUNE/TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The Chicago-based photographer, whose prolific work was discovered shortly before her death in 2009, captured hundreds of thousands of images of everyday people she encountered while exploring the Midwestern city.

While most of her work was in black and white, Iñárritu says that her color photographs inspired the film’s palette, particularly during its more ethereal moments.

The Labyrinth of Solitude

THE LABYRINTH OF SOLITUDE Iñárritu considers Octavio Paz one of the greatest Mexican writers. “This is the most accurate description of the feeling of being Mexican, no matter where you are in your country or outside the country,” says the director. “He wrote it when he was living in Europe, with a distance that it requires. … For me, it’s a bible or an X-ray of a Mexican soul, with a lot of reflections and emotions that triggered for me what was crucial for the film.”
The Labyrinth of Solitude COURTESY OF GROVE ATLANTIC

Iñárritu considers Octavio Paz one of the greatest Mexican writers. “This is the most accurate description of the feeling of being Mexican, no matter where you are in your country or outside the country,” says the director. “He wrote it when he was living in Europe, with a distance that it requires. … For me, it’s a bible or an X-ray of a Mexican soul, with a lot of reflections and emotions that triggered for me what was crucial for the film.”

THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY The great surrealist auteur Luis Buñuel, who made films in France, Mexico and his native Spain, was a major influence on Iñárritu. The Bardo director says Buñuel’s 1974 dark comedy, a series of vignettes skewering social mores and ideals, is a particular favorite. “It is the most sophisticated, liberating way to do a film with no narratives or with no structure,” says Iñárritu. “Bardo isn’t a story without story — it is a walk in the consciousness of the character.”
The Phantom of Liberty 20TH CENTURY-FOX FILM CORP/ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

The surrealist auteur Luis Buñuel, who made films in France, Mexico and Spain, was a major influence on Iñárritu.

The director says Buñuel’s 1974 dark comedy, a series of vignettes skewering social mores and ideals, is a particular favorite. “It is the most sophisticated, liberating way to do a film with no narratives or structure,” says Iñárritu. “Bardo isn’t a story without story–it is a walk in the consciousness of the character.”

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY Inarritu says he was an avid fan of the progressive rock movement, and this 1974 concept album by Genesis — the band’s last to feature original frontman Peter Gabriel — tells the story of Orion, a Puerto Rican immigrant living in New York who confronts questions about his identity. The evocative cover art, designed by English design group Hipgnosis, shows a figure that Iñárritu describes as “a spiritual presence [who sees] himself being trapped in all these vignettes in black and white.”
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway COURTESY OF ATLANTIC RECORDS

Iñárritu was an avid fan of the progressive rock movement, and this 1974 concept album by Genesis — the band’s last to feature original frontman Peter Gabriel — tells the story of Orion, a Puerto Rican immigrant living in New York who confronts questions about his identity.

The evocative cover art, designed by English design group Hipgnosis, shows a figure that Iñárritu describes as “a spiritual presence [who sees] himself being trapped in all these vignettes in black and white.”

David Bowie

DAVID BOWIE A crucial moment in the film is a sequence in which Gama and his family party to Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Inarritu says that song in particular exudes joy and makes the listener, in his words, “almost want to smile to death.” In the film, the track is stripped down to just Bowie’s vocals, creating an otherworldly sense as Gama loses himself in the music on the dance floor.
David Bowie COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

A crucial moment in the film depicts Gama and his family party to Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Iñárritu says that song in particular exudes joy and makes the listener “almost want to smile to death.” In the film, the track is stripped down to just Bowie’s vocals, creating an otherworldly sense as Gama loses himself in the music on the dance floor.