Alejandro Iñárritu on “Bardo” as a Pink Floyd-inspired “concept album”

Toolkit Episode 189: Director Alejandro González Iñárritu speaks to IndieWire about his most personal film yet and how it was influenced by the concept albums of the 1970s.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo is the director’s most personal film to date and quite possibly his most ambitious – which is really saying something when you talk about the filmmaker behind Birdman and The Revenant. While these films had their logistical and physical challenges, “Bardo” tested Iñárritu in a more intellectual and emotional sense. “The structure of this film is different from any other film I’ve made,” he told IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “There is no story, there is no structure, there is no plot. Just a mental landscape of a character taken from the last moments of his life and all this dreamlike perception. Getting that across and materializing those images or feelings and memories was very difficult to achieve. What is the emotion we are trying to convey and then what are the technical and physical requirements to achieve this? It was an equation I had never faced before.”

To find models for his unusual narrative, Iñárritu looked for an unlikely source of inspiration. “In the ’70s I loved these albums that were concept albums,” he said. “There were no singles, there was no division. The Pink Floyd Albums or Yes or Genesis’ ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’. Albums like this or David Bowie’s told a story and the songs blended and it was just an atmosphere – a dream state and the story was kind of subjective. So the idea was always: not necessarily having act one, act two, act three; not to build or construct something, but to liberate and abolish borders and boundaries between genres and the isolation of things. This film required a lot more than others because I was trying to express things I haven’t solved, things I have to overcome, experiences, dreams. Memories that didn’t make sense, that told me something I didn’t understand…that were absolutely mysterious, but they came up and affected me.”

You can listen to the full discussion above or subscribe to the Filmmaker Toolkit podcast below.

The Filmmaker Toolkit podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast and Stitcher. The music used in this podcast is from the score Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, courtesy of composer Nathan Halpern.

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Lindsay Lowe

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