A critic takes a second look at Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s ‘Bardo’ — and is thankful he did
It’s been 25 years since “Bardo,” Mexico’s first feature-length feature film, opened with the startling image of two naked people standing in a room looking into each other’s eyes. (“Bardo” was co-written by Pedro Almodóvar, who had just won his first Oscar for that film.) It was a breakthrough and a flop at the same time; now, it’s considered one of the greatest films of all time. Yet, a year after its release, the director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s latest film, “Bardo,” may be his best yet. It’s an unusual, challenging, and complex experience that showcases the filmmaker’s talents.
“Bardo” is a film about death, but it’s a post-mortality film of sorts, as well. Iñárritu’s love for the film is evident in a number of ways. When he was writing the screenplay, he was determined to make “Bardo” a film that could stand on its own. He worked with a small cast and crew, he kept scenes on the cutting-room floor, and he used a documentary-style format to make “Bardo” a different kind of documentary.
“Bardo” wasn’t supposed to be a movie about death, but his desire to make an artist’s movie led him to focus on death and life. And death, for me, is often about life. It’s about the life and love and loss that we all have. And it’s a form of death that happens not just to us but to everyone. In the film, Iñárritu does not explore death from a medical or medical-scientific perspective, but he tells the stories of