TELLURIDE – “Birdman” has arrived stateside and made as significant an impact as it did at the Venice Film Festival last week. You won't run into too many people who have managed to catch it at one of its packed screenings who weren't completely blown away by the accomplishment, and for director Alejandro González Iñárritu, it was clearly a much-needed exercise in self-reflection away from the somber fray of his filmography to date.
From “Amores Perros” to “21 Grams,” “Babel” to “Biutiful,” González Iñárritu has marinated in heavy drama. And it's not that “Birdman” is without its own profound gravity – quite the opposite, in fact – but it gave him an opportunity to finally have fun and get outside his own head a bit, albeit through a film that very much exists as an exploration of his own midlife considerations.
That made sitting down with him all the more enjoyable. Jet-lagged from Venice and a touch hungover from a Fox Searchlight party the night before, he was in tremendous spirits and seemed so happy to engage every nuance of the project. Read through our back and forth below as we talk about meta commentary, jazz influence and the “disease” of superheroes.
“Birdman” opens in theaters Oct. 17.
HitFix: I'm sure by now, after Venice and here, you've been barraged with the question of making this film appear like a single take. I've talked to Alfonso [Cuarón] and Chivo [Lubezki] about this a number of times, capturing a full breadth of behavior in a single take. Here it becomes sort of obvious, I think, why you made the choice, because it puts you right there with the character. And it's not distracting. It's really quite immersive in many ways. Was that the thought process?
Alejandro González Iñárritu: Absolutely. I knew that that was the best way to serve the character's experience and the audience's experience through him. To put the audience in an extreme, radical mode and point-of-view experience, to feel trapped in that reality. We live that way. I had a discussion with Walter Murch about it, we talked about handheld – we wake up and that's the way we experience life. So I thought it would be great if we could experience the story with Riggan. And I didn't want to distract. I didn't want it to be flashy camera moves and be the director of bullshit. I wanted it to flow and for the emotional flow to be more pure.
What's jaw-dropping about it is, you know, the camera movement is one thing but the lighting must have just been ridiculous throughout.