MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — For Oscar-winning production designer Eugenio Caballero, talking about Mexico City inevitably means dealing with the enormous scales a city of more than nine million residents demands.
“And if you want to catch it, you have to play that game of scales as well,” he said in an interview by video call from the Mexican capital, ahead of the film’s release this Friday on Netflix worldwide after it has passed through theaters. About Premiere. ,
Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s most recent film, “Bardo”, generated great anticipation since its shooting was announced as it was the director’s first film shot in his homeland in nearly two decades. Upon his return, the filmmaker sought to scale it up.
The enormous scale was not only the size, but the time they wanted to project, between the various centuries of their history, from the conflict between the Mexicas and the Spanish to the present day. as well as in the different decades of the last century for which its protagonist has been Silverio Gama (Daniel Giménez Cacho).
“It was very important to me that it reflect the architecture of this country and the history of this country,” said Caballero, who won an Academy Award for art direction for “Pan’s Labyrinth” early in his career and won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction for his career. Nominated for production. Design work on Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”. “This craziness of architecture that exists in this city is amazing.”
of the buildings and historical sites featured in the film, with the full title “Bardo”. False Chronicle of Some Truths”, is the zocalo in the surroundings of which Moctezuma and Hernán Cortés met at the beginning of the conquest. There are also colonial buildings from S. XVI and XVII, Chapultepec Castle, whose construction began in 1785, as well as Art Deco Colonias ( neighborhoods) such as La Condesa and La Roma.
“The 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the 2000s, five decades of Silverio mixed together,” said Caballero. “That’s all channeled into the movie somehow.”
To achieve his mission, he filmed in a “hybrid” manner between real locations and sets, which he combined with visual effects. For example, Chapultepec Castle is a listed building, but the film reenacts the battle of Niños Heros (cadets who fought against the US Army in 1847), including Juan Escutia, who according to legend sacrificed himself with the Mexican flag. was thrown to death, which required building a scale replica of part of the building.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to film in such an amazing location and with such a historical charge,” said Caballero. “We built this Chapultepec tower in the parking lot so we could shoot Juan Escutia and then we put that replica together digitally, it was a huge full-scale replica that was (about) 10 meters high.”
In the Zocalo, Silverio comes across a pyramid of indigenous corpses, with Cortés at the top.
“We can’t put it in the Zócalo, it’s impossible to shoot there,” said the designer. “We managed to render one part of the Zócalo blank and the other we made digital … To create the digital environment, we started with real images of the surrounding buildings and then we used this ‘tableau’ went on a stage to make (pictures) of pre-Hispanic bodies”, he elaborated.
Another example of his level of detail in the production is an airport scene in which Silverio argues with an American immigration agent. The airport in a semi-abandoned Mexican mall was created entirely through movie magic to create a scene that would otherwise not be cleared by security at a real airport. They placed lamps, bands for suitcases, divisions and modules. “We built an airport,” he said.
At some point Silverio attends a party in his honor at the famous California Dancing Club Ballroom in the Mexican capital. In this case, he filmed in the royal room, but he covered it with about 600 mirrors and reinforced it to accommodate the actors and dozens of extras on stage.
Caballero said, “Everything for hundreds, to be able to do that choreography in that moment, which for me is an important moment in the film.”
The film is narrated through the eyes of Silverio, who has altered consciousness, so he also had to create a kind of constant reverie that real things actually happen: one day his apartment appears to be filled with sand and when When he opens the door, he finds out that he is in the desert.
“It’s not digital, we moved the set 3,000 kilometers to Baja (California) to put it in the middle of the desert, get the lights on and have that special moment of Silverio going into the desert to find himself,” Caballero said.
Silverio has a successful career as a journalist and documentarian in the United States, but doesn’t feel like he belongs there. He left Mexico more than a decade ago and upon his return found that things had changed. So he doesn’t feel completely comfortable even in his own country, plus his kids are young and at an age where they confront their father about questions, even at the party in California he himself Separates from everyone.
Caballero said, “I really liked the idea that Silverio is always uncomfortable in places, he doesn’t stop being there.” “He also gave us a guideline for using those symbols, the elements are not where they should be, they are not in their normal place, they are not in their comfortable place, the water is on a train, in the apartment waterlogged or filled with filth.”
The film takes place in Mexico City, the desert north of the country, the Pacific Coast, and Los Angeles. Like G. Iñárritu’s previous work, it includes long pans that allow the action to unfold naturally and seamlessly in front of the camera, but for the filmmakers it includes 3D models, concept drawings, a storyboard meticulous planning involved) and in the case of “Bardo”, a special addition: physical set rehearsals.
“More than any other film, we did a lot of previsualization work,” recalled Caballero, who said he liked productions when they became “bobbin lace” because of their difficulty. “We rehearsed the sets before we built them to see if they were going to work or not work and that was definitely crazy.”