Alejandro Inarritu: From Indie Filmmaker to Oscar Winner

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Writer/Director Alejandro Inarritu did something that hasn’t been done in a long time, win back to back Oscars® for Best Director for his extraordinary films Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Revenant. He has directed only six films and two have won him Best Directing Oscars®, not many filmmakers can say that. I wanted to put this post together to reveal how this filmmaker has achieved so much in such a small amount of time.

Alejandro González Inarritu was born in 1963. During the 90s, he worked with the Mexican TV company Televisa. Unsatisfied what that kind of work he founded his production company Z Films with Raul Olvera in Mexico. Under Z Films, he started writing, directing and producing short films and television commercials. With finally making the jump into film and television writing/directing, he studied under legendary Polish director Ludwik Margules.

“I think every beautiful tale in the world hides the truth and reveals it little by little.”

Alejandro Inarritu’s Films

Iñarritu’s six feature films are

These films have attracted critical acclaim and numerous awards, including a crazy amount of Academy Award nominations and wins. In 2015, Alejandro Inarritu won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture for Birdman. The following year, he won the Academy Award for Best Director again for The Revenant, making him the third director to win back to back Academy Awards, and the first since 1950 .

In the last decade, Alejandro González Iñárritu has proved himself as one of the most unique filmmakers around. With a unique look and feel, he made an impact on cinema goers and on cinema in general. You feel the emotions of the characters, you feel the pain and suffering. You feel their happiness and confusion. He uses the visual medium to tell a story, to give an audience an unforgettable experience.

Check out this short film directed by Alejandro Inarritu for BMW starring Clive Owen.

MasterClass Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu


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Amores Perros

This is the visceral debut feature of Alejandro Inarritu. It can be considered as a frenetic and yet fractured portrait of Mexico City. It thrusts the viewer into a highly complex narrative that has visceral impact through dogs, cars, blood and smoke, a lot of screaming besides handheld camerawork as well as jagged cutting.

amores_perros_ver2Amores Perros is the electrifying work of a filmmaker who is dauntless. It is the directing debut of Alejandro Inarritu. This film interweaves three different stories with the help of a metaphorical motif of dogs who are owned by the protagonists of each story. There is a narration through a car accident involving all the film’s characters.

There is Octavio’s love for his brother’s wife. There is the story of Valeria, a model who is disfigured in the car accident and her strained relationship with Daniel. The final story is of El Chivo who is an embittered hitman estranged from his family and now seeks redemption as well as change.

“I remember, the first time I saw a [Andrei] Tarkovsky film, I was shocked by it. I didn’t know what to do. I was fascinated, because suddenly I realized that film could have so many more layers to it than what I had imagined before. Then others, like Kurosawa and Fellini, were like a new discovery for me, another country.”

Iñárritu’s narrative techniques do have their own set of problems. He has incorporated significant elements of the second and third stories into the first one. This tends to occasionally diminish the high-octane momentum. Amores Perros won the Grand Prize at the International Critics’ Week in Cannes as well as the Best Director prize at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. He says that there are too many things to say, hence this structure of three stories helped.

The writing process for this venture took three years. The main aim was to make a movie about love, death and then redemption. The focus was the painful process of loving somebody. It was not easy to decide when and how will the paths of the characters cross each other, as this is what made it a whole movie that was divided into three stories. This car accident exposed the fragility of life. No matter what plans you make, as a car crash can change everything. The canine metaphor was always a part of the story from the beginning itself. It was just a good story. Once the story is there, money will be waiting somewhere.

Amores Perros is a uniquely Mexican story but which is actually a very universal story. Different cultures and sensibilities are able to connect emotionally to this movie. You do not really see Mexico City in the film; in fact the place only serves as the battleground for depicting the emotions in the story. It is not a scenario of what is happening in this city. The film explores how Mexican society has lost its fraternity.

“When people laugh and applaud as characters are killing each other, and you never see the body that’s lying there, or you never see the family that suffers, then it turns into a cool thing to do, like a videogame. Then, when you watch the news and see that 15 soldiers were killed, you start to see them as just numbers, material, information, images. We lose the real weight and real value of one simple human life.”

The visual design of this film is high-contrast as it has been shot through with vibrant colors. This is because it demanded a very specific aesthetic. After all, the architecture as well as the colors of Mexico City can be kitsch, with a beauty of their own. The movie has a lot of character, and a very vibrant feeling. Amores Perros displays a real passion and knowledge of cinema. This is about a violent city, and hence you cannot make a romantic fairy tale or a funny comedy about tt. Violence is going to have very painful consequences.

The movie has something like a bitter take on love as well as human relationships. Also, most of the characters of the film wind up as pretty unfulfilled when the film ends. This is because life is basically an ongoing process that has a lot of loss. This is because you are always losing things. Hence these characters in the film lose innocence, hope, lust and love, hope. But at the same time, this process of learning to love somebody, and to love you, will always be a very painful process.

“As a sensitive filmmaker, I think you have to really be careful in how you explore it. Not that you can’t tell any story you want – I’m not calling for censorship or anything. But if you’re going to have violence, I think it’s important to deal with the consequences of that on a human level, not just to make people laugh.”

Here love is a dominant emotion that can be highly destructive too. It all depends on how you use it. Man is having a divine nature as well as an animal nature. When this animal nature is dominating, your decisions will be having a lot of consequences. This movie is about weak characters, people that can be broken. And that is life. At the end, despite all these circumstances, there is still hope as you can change your life since destiny is in your hands!

Amores Perros was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000 and won the Ariel Award for Best Picture from the Mexican Academy of Film.



Biutiful

In Barcelona, Spain (2010), Alejandro Inarritu directed, co-wrote and produced Biutiful (2010), starring Javier Bardem. As an artist Alejandro Inarritu felt much of the pain that was going on in the world so he decided to bring that pain to the screen with this film. Biutiful is about a low-level hustler having a compassionate heart who is dying but can communicate with the dead.

The film was nominated at the 2011 Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film, and at the BAFTA Awards for Best Film Not in the English Language and Best Actor. For the second time in his career, Alejandro Inarritu’s film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards; Javier Bardem’s performance was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Alejandro Iñárritu on the cinematography of Biutiful


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

In 2014, Alejandro Inarritu directed, co-produced and co-wrote his first comedy, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 2014. The film stars Batman himself Michael Keaton with a remarkable supporting cast of Emma Stone, Edward Norton , Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, and Naomi Watts.

It has the harried tribulations of actor Riggan Thomson who is a former star trying to create a different kind of legacy by acting in a Broadway stage production. It is an engrossing and imaginative movie which is especially noted for its extra-long and continuous camera takes. The film was filmed in the Big Apple, New York City, during the 2013 with a budget of $16.5 million, which was co-financed by Fox Searchlight, New Regency and Worldview Entertainment . It opened the 71st Venice International Film Festival to standing ovations.

The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, along with Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography from a total of nine nominations.

The creative choice to make the movie appear to be a single shot came from Inarritu’s realization that

“we live our lives with no editing.”

By presenting the movie as a continuous shot he could

“submerge the protagonist in an ‘inescapable reality’ and take the audience with him”.

Alejandro Inarritu shared this idea with screenwriters/cousins Nicolás Giacobone and Armando Bo, as well as playwright Alexander Dinelaris Jr., who had all worked with him on his previous movies. Their first reaction was to tell him the continuous-shot idea could not work. But Inarritu stood firm with his creative idea and what delivered on the screen was a masterpiece.

NYFF52 “Birdman” Q&A | Alejandro G. Iñárritu + Cast


The Revenant

In 2015 came this adaptation of Michael Punke’s novel, The Revenant, about frontiersman Hugh Glass ‘s experiences in 1823, this adaptation would be Alejandro Inarritu’s next film. The film is a drama thriller about Hugh Glass(The fur trapper). The movie features Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass. It was a difficult to shoot film due to the frigid weather.

Check out: The Revenant: Uncover the Madness – Documentary. It’ll blow your mind.

The Revenant was released in the U.S. and was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, winning Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Actor just to mention a few.


If you liked Alejandro Inarritu: From Indie Films to Oscar Winner take a listen to:
The Revenant: Uncover the Madness – Documentary



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