Study Guide

Birdman Director

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Alejandro González Iñárritu

Before Alejandro Iñárritu was known as the guy who won a Best Director Oscar for The Revenant, he was a humble unknown, waiting tables in New York City.

Er—scratch that. Before Alejandro Iñárritu won a Best Director Oscar for The Revenant, he won a Best Director Oscar for Birdman. Like: the year before. He won two Best Director awards in a row. (Our biggest accomplishment is probably "being able to sing "Midnight Train To Georgia" at karaoke night.")

But let's get the full story on this maestro. Maybe we'll feel better about our achievements.

When he was sixteen years old, Alejandro González Iñárritu was expelled from school in Mexico and hopped on a cargo ship heading across the Atlantic Ocean as a commercial sailor, during which he travelled to parts of Europe and Africa. Iñárritu "never studied cinema," he says, "I learned from life." (Source)

Hmm. Nope. Iñárritu's still making us look bad.

Life must have had a lot to teach Iñárritu. Returning to Mexico, he studied communications and nabbed a job hosting a radio station which he held for the next five years before deciding to try his hand at making movies.

With his new production company, Z films, and a few short projects under his belt, Iñárritu teamed up with Guillermo Arriaga to make his first feature film, Amores perros, a story of three connected narratives that come together in Mexico City. After it was well received at Cannes, Iñárritu's career took off…all the way to Hollywood.

In fact, why don't we just run through Iñárritu's entire filmography? Don't worry: it's only six (brilliant) movies long. After Amores perros came 21 Grams, followed by Babel, Biutiful, and Birdman, with The Revenant capping it all off.

The first three films all have intertwining storylines which often appear out of chronological order, making Birdman a bit of an outlier—it does exactly the opposite, focusing on a single story with a small set of characters over a definitive and chronological period of time.

It's also Iñárritu's first foray into comedy. Okay, maybe Birdman isn't your typical, Paul Blart Mall Cop kind of comedy, but it's got some funny bits—especially compared to his earlier, death-obsessed films. In fact, he first conceived of Birdman because he wanted to do a comedy and pictured a man floating in his underwear.

If that's not a biutiful movie prompt, we don't know what is.

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