Few big-screen returns feel more exciting this year than that of Alejandro G. Iñárritu. His The Revenant follow-up, Bardo, False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths, stands to be the Oscar-winning director’s most personal work yet—and, potentially, his most luminous. Coming off a roaring reception at Venice (and a return to the editing table that, per IndieWire, left the film 22 minutes shorter), Bardo has a new, visually stunning trailer with lots of metaphor and little explanation.
The trailer has no dialogue, a choice Iñárritu tells IndieWire came from a desire to forgo subtitles and let multi-lingual audiences focus on the imagery. Instead, the trailer’s audio comes from a pitch-perfect soundtrack: The Beatles’ weird and wonderful “I Am The Walrus,” which Iñárritu secured the rights to with the help of Sean Lennon.
“John Lennon deliberately wrote lyrics for that song that are impossible to be interpreted,” Iñárritu says. “Nonsense that makes sense is what this film is trying to do. [Trailer editor] Mark Woollen made it so that the lyrics made sense with the images.”
As the writer penning this, it’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that there’s likely no stronger English language description for the gorgeous, giddy Bardo trailer than “nonsense that makes sense.” The film’s immersive cinematography races through feathery dance sequences, brush-spattered deserts, and ICU delivery tables without a word of exposition— the tapestry these images create is what really counts.
Per the film’s official logline, Bardo centers around the life of Silverio (played by Mexican actor Daniel Giménez Cacho), “a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker living in Los Angeles, who, after being named the recipient of a prestigious international award, is compelled to return to his native country, unaware that this simple trip will push him to an existential limit.”
“We wanted this mural of mental states,” Iñárritu tells IndieWire. “Mexico is not a country, it’s a state of mind, and the film came from that—this sense of a country that does not belong to you, and you cannot return to it.”
In as many moments as Silverio appears at home—star-leaping in a dimly-lit nightclub or cradling a plastic bag filled with water and two lizards on the subway— becoming lost in his own history is always a sidestep away. Silverio army-crawls through his flooding house only for the camera to reveal no more than an empty set; a live performance turns gruesome when Silverio realizes his feet have been nailed to the stage. The divide between real and imagined is less of a line and more of a portal—both the physical and metaphysical worlds Silverio inhabits exist in a perfect dance. You cannot return to your past, but you sure as hell can’t live without it, either.
Bardo will hit theaters November 18, and lands on Netflix for streaming December 16.