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WATCH: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Cinema of Self-Awareness: A Video Tour

WATCH: Alejandro González Iñárritu's Cinema of Self-Awareness: A Video Tour

In Shakespeare studies, the term anagnorisis means a moment of self-recognition, when a character becomes blazingly aware of his or her place in the world, and of his or her relationship with other characters, after a long period of denial. Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello are practically bursting with anagnorisis; the central figures of these plays cannot withstand the truth about themselves and, watching them, we cannot withstand it either. The films of Alejandro González Iñárritu have anagnorisis to spare, as well. It does not always have to be tragic: Riggan Thompson’s (Michael Keaton) flight in Birdman is an example. However, in the films of this director, more often than not, anagnorisis signifies the shouldering of a weight one did not think one could bear: see Richard’s (Brad Pitt) moment of reckoning with his wife’s injury in Babel, or Jack Jordan’s (Benicio del Toro) tragic glance within himself in 21 Grams. Edgar Martinez’s beautiful video flight through Iñárritu’s work calls up these moments and thrusts them out for our attention. When presented in such an open manner, it is hard not to recognize Iñárritu’s strength as a storyteller, whatever what one might think of him as an overall filmmaker.

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