The Visual Poetry In The Films Of Alejandro González Iñárritu Is Beautiful & Brutal [Video Essay]

The Visual Poetry In The Films Of Alejandro González Iñárritu Is Beautiful & Brutal [Video Essay]
Alejandro González Iñárritu has been putting forth his vision onscreen now for almost two decades. In the last two years, he’s directed two movies (“Birdman” and “The Revenant“) that have pushed the boundaries of the medium and won him consecutive Directing Oscars, a feat only done twice before in Oscar history.
A well-crafted video essay of the work Iñárritu has done these past 16 years was created by Vugar Efendi Films. It juxtaposes the haunting beauty that comes with the Mexican-born director’s work. It’s a well-done summation and tribute to a filmmaker that continues to try and break new ground with his craft and produce one artistic statement after another.
Iñárritu’s unique visual style and grim subject matter has made an impact on cinema ever since his astonishing 2000 debut “Amores Perros” (translated “Love is a Bitch“), a Mexican mosaic of dread that kick-started his career on an exquisite high. He’s never shied away from making you feel the suffering and emotional state of his characters, and boy do they suffer: in “Biutiful,” Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a father of two, with a manic depressive wife, living in a crime-ridden Barcelona, when he finds out he has terminal cancer. In “21 Grams,” Paul (Sean Penn) is a terminally ill mathematician who strikes up a friendship with Cristina (Naomi Watts), a grieving mother whose child recently passed away. “Babel” had a Japanese girl dealing with rejection, the death of her mother, a disability, and alienation. Of course, last year’s “The Revenant” had an Oscar-winning Leonardo DiCapriogetting tortured, mauled by a bear, shot, frozen, and stabbed. Welcome to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s world, where almost no one can escapes the wrath of life unharmed.
His focus on the stark, honest, and frequently brutal side of humanity could be seen as ponderous or even pretentious by some, but Iñárritu surrounded it all with an immaculate palette of visual wonder. The gritty, handheld filmmaking that invaded the first half of his career, alongside his four-film partnership with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (“Amores Perros,” “21 Grams,” “Babel,” and “Biutiful”) conjured up images that were as ugly as they were beautiful. There was a titillating sense of turbulence to his camera that lent itself exceptionally well to the content of the story. His use of color during this time period was very interesting, with the frequent inclusion of red-soaked imagery influenced by the magical realism of Latin American literature.
Then along came “Birdman” and “The Revenant,” but more importantly, his newly-formed partnership with cinematographer extraordinaire, Emmanuel Lubezki. To say this enhanced the visual imagery that Iñárritu could convey through his camera lens would be an understatement. Lubezki brought a whole new level of artistry to Iñárritu’s art, with rhythmic long takes and surrealist imagery. Their use of visual elements mixed with special effects created something horrifying, engaging, and kind of beautiful that also never felt forced. What they created was a new language for cinema, one in which the cinematographer had as much of a role in the creative process as the director.
Vugar Efendi’s video goes on to show how Iñárritu’s style has evolved over time and how much more mature the content has become. Gone is the grim sentimentalism that could burden some of the scenes in his earlier films, replaced by a more detached and forward-looking style that strives for the most grandiose of ambitions. Even when he aims high and sometimes misses, the feeling is nothing less than exhilarating.