Sep 022014

Inarritu about long takes on BIRDMAN -thefilmbook-

Director Alejandro Iñarritu speaks with Anne Thompson at Telluride about his latest film, Birdman. By all accounts the film is brilliant, innovative, powerful. I’m dying to see it.

Like Hitchcock’s Rope, the film is presented as one continuous take, with editing masking the splices between a series of long takes. The cinematography is by the great Emmanuel Lubezki. In the interview, Inarritu cites some examples of the long take, and explains how “it creates reality”:

Ann Thompson: Is there someone who uses long takes in a way you admire? Perhaps Steve McQueen or your pal Alfonso Cuarón?

Alejandro Inarritu: Well, I think Alfonso used it marvelously. I think the guy who, really, is the most incredible guy is Max Ophüls, and every time you wonder, “How did he do it?” He’s such an elegant guy, because I think everything is in service of the experience, not showing it. Or Tarkovsky, for example. When you have a guy who’s so in control of real time, where there’s so many things happening, that’s what I really admire. It’s difficult when you have to make things go around, and even when it’s static, something has to be going through. I love, sometimes, how Carlos Reygadas uses it, too. To use those kinds of “holding” things is not easy.

In this case, I want to serve that purpose — but I know the challenges as a director. Again, when you go against cinema’s nature, which is fragmented time and space, which is the nature of film, you have to be so aware of what you’re doing and so clear. All the decisions that you take, normally, six months to come up in your room, you’re changing in terms of pace and tone, hiding your mistakes, changing everything. If some scene was absolutely wrong, I’ll never be able to take it out or hide it. That was a very terrifying thing.

AT: Though it creates an energy.

AI: It creates energy, and it creates reality, because everybody was shitting their pants. Anybody that “faked,” technically or emotionally or anything… it was like that all day, every day, until the last hour, and it was an exhilarating kind of thing, but it was terrifying.


Inarritu will start shooting his next film in only 3 weeks in the snows of British Calgary. The upcoming film is called The Revenant, and he says it’s a “pre-Western kind of thing. 1823. It’s not a Western.”


In the video of the first 5 minutes of the interview, Iñarritu says that he is surprised that “so many people are happy that the film exists”

link to video



Anne Thompson’s article on Indiewire
including a partial transcript of the interview

wikipedia: Rope by Alfred Hitchcock


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