Bardo, false chronicle of some truths

Lygia Clark(Brazil, 1920 - 1988), Painted matchboxes, 1964


Commentary on the film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

The film Bardo, false chronicle of a few truths tells the story of Silveiro Gama, a renowned Mexican documentary filmmaker who lives in the United States and is in conflict with himself because he feels, in a way, that he has abandoned his homeland, which raises in him several existential questions about his identity. Even so, in conversations with Americans, he also feels the obligation to defend his country in this tense and, at times, even belligerent relationship that both nations have built over the last two centuries.

The film aims precisely to show these internal conflicts between the individual and his surroundings with regard to the relationships of belonging to his own nation. It is a construction that does not fail to give viewers the impression that Alejandro González Iñárritu himself shares these same feelings to some extent.

The surreal scenes, reminiscent of the works of great directors such as Luís Buñuel and which demonstrate Silverio Gama's inner conflicts on the outside – whose more precise contextualization is left only for the end, when the main character's destiny is revealed – reflect a mix of feelings arising from inquiries made to him by himself and others. Examples of this are the participation in the talk show of a famous presenter in his country or conversations with his own son about his relationship with his homeland on the eve of receiving an award in the United States as a result of his work as a documentary filmmaker.

The occasion to receive the award in the country where he lives and which for so many years has explored his homeland (and will continue to explore, as seen in the newspaper headlines shown throughout the film, which deal with an alleged acquisition by Amazon of the Mexican state of Baja California) create the environment for this internal existential crisis as opposed to external objectivity at the moment of recognition of their work in the United States. With that, the character not only questions his political and social position, but also recalls personal relationships, as in the scene where he shrinks down to talk to his late father, or in the mourning he feels for the loss of his son in childbirth.

With these discussions, Alejandro González Iñárritu himself seems to bring autobiographical elements and make a self-criticism of how he feels about his country as a successful and awarded director in the United States. His Mexican heritage and worldview are clear in works such as Dog loves, considered one of the main films in the history of Mexican cinema, but must seem distant for the director himself, Oscar winner twice, for Birdman e The return – or at least that's what he makes the audience ponder.

Silverio Gama is an exponent of his country's culture abroad and (possibly like Alejandro González Iñárritu himself) exalts, whenever possible, the Mexican spirit, even if with a certain regret about the situation in which the less privileged part of his society. In response, he has to hear, several times, that this attitude carries a certain hypocrisy, since he no longer lives in his home country.

He also points out the consequences of the Mexican-American War, much more felt by the inhabitants south of the border. But he gets angry when, upon landing at the airport, he hears that the United States is not his home, to the point of starting a confusion, in which his children take their pain and reaffirm the feeling that the United States is their home. Here, his daughter is especially excited for having her status as a resident of the United States denied, which carries a certain irony, since throughout the film she had pointed out several contradictions in Silverio's relationship with the two countries and expressed the desire to reconnect with your homeland.

These internal conflicts in this opposition between the individual and his exterior set the tone of the work, much more than the linearity of the narrative with its episodes marked by surrealist components, with these dreamlike elements reflecting precisely the development of the character's existential questions. It is, for Bard and Iñárritu, much more than presenting a vision of the world that sometimes may seem hypocritical even to the one who possesses it, is capable of making the individual question his own identity, to the point that inner conflicts erupt in exteriority, in his own personal tragicomedy.

*Gustavo Torrecilha is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of São Paulo (USP).


Bardo, false chronicle of some truths
Mexico, 2022, 159 minutes
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenplay: Nicolas Giacobone
Cast: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Griselda Siciliani


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