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An Auteur Study of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Style

Title Screen

The objective…

of this study is to use the auteur model to examine Alejandro González Iñárritu’s two films: Babel (2006) and Biutiful (2010). An explanation of why Iñárritu films are truly auteurism works of art will be discussed. Techniques used in these films portray fear, human suffering, and stereotypes. Iñárritu called his films “emotional geography that the viewer can roam and relate to as a human” (Bouchaib 2011). The topics of analysis derived from this objective will cover the use of narrative structure, sound and silence, filming techniques and characterization themes that challenge the audience illustrating tragedy, changes and terror of the characters. Themes include reactions to consequences or fate and fear through sickness, injury, or loss; universal to all humans. Iñárritu presents these themes with clarity of realism that results in empathy. This study aims to prove that an Iñárritu’s films create an emotional landscape to show that there is light and beauty in the darkest human experiences that leads to transformation. The relationships with his creative personnel brings continuity between Babel and Biutiful.

Auteur criticism…

dates back to the 1920’s with French art cinema claiming as the filmmaker being the auteur (Hayward 2012). Over the centuries, many debates about others involved with the film as being auteurs. This study provides exemplary explanations why Iñárritu films are distinct and visually compelling. The creative personnel that worked on both Babel and Biutiful including:

● Director of Cinematography Rodrigo Prieto
● Score Composer Gustavo Santaolalla
● Sound Designer Martín Hernández
● Film Editor Stephen Mirrione
● Production Designer Brigitte Broch
● CoProducer Ann Ruark
● Producer Jon Kilik

Rodrigo Prieto says Iñárritu allows a lot of room for proposes ideas. “It makes you feel like it’s your movie, too, and that empowers you to contribute as much as possible” (Bosley 2006). Even though the narrative structures on these two film are entirely different, many techniques and stylistic traits can be seen in both films.

Contrasting structures…

of Babel and Biutiful show that Iñárritu is not locked into a mold. His first three films, including Babel were nonlinear storylines consisting of several interlocking narratives of people affected by the actions of others. These stories were shot and disassembled and recomposed to give the narrative more sensation. Biutiful looks at a single linear story focusing on the daily actions of one character to drive the story. Iñárritu delivers both with great precision.

Babel’s hypernarrative and intertwining plot is dispersed among several countries and portrays the characters in a way that illustrates how global communications is flattening our world. This film is truly an international work, from the production people to the writer and the cast. This film examines the varying perspectives of the characters in the aftermath of a tragic accidental shooting. This film is considered the third in a trilogy and final work with writer, Guillermo Arriaga. Each story within this film focuses on the individual’s plight but their experiences become insignificant to the overall perspective during the final segment. Amelia is forced to voluntary deportation and her son, Luis, meets her. She in the same dress she was wearing at the wedding and it is only hours after she left him. Her desperation and terror can be seen in their embrace. She sees her whole world as she knows it disappear, as a consequence of one decision.

From there, the viewer is transported back to Morocco where Yusset has surrendered and his brother’s dead body is carried away. A closeup of his face reveals the terror he feels from this loss. He reflects through the only flashback of the film showing the two sharing a moment of sheer happiness. Their arms are spread against blowing on wind a mountainside. This image is mimicked earlier by the Japanese teenagers during their ecstasy trip.

This segment leads to the evacuation of Mrs. Smith by the Red Cross helicopter, producing a very different kind of wind. All the villagers are curiously looking on. Mr. Smith offers the tour guide a wad of cash; which is rejected. Mr. Smith does not understand the refusal of money and realizes that hug they just shared was a viable replacement for the nonmaterialistic man.

This scene is consistent with the other stories’ ending where the characters show signs of transformation. During these three segments, the nondiegetic musical score, discussed later, replaces dialogue because words cannot convey the emotions that Iñárritu conveys. The final emotional charge comes with Chieko and her father embracing in an understanding of empathy for each other’s loss. The final shot zooms out from the father and daughter until they are specks in the Japanese sky. Iñárritu calls this shot the “El Abandonador; in which starts with closeups of the characters, almost able to smell their skin to giving them some space to breathe and looking at them from a distance… like pulling back from a beehive” (Deleyto 2010 P. 135). This is the point where the stories all converge into showing a common theme of love overcoming obstacles and hardships. There are many open-ended situations that Iñárritu leaves to the viewer’s imagination.

Biutiful…

is a departure from Iñárritu’s previous offerings. The story was shot in chronological order by scene and focuses on one main character. Uxbal finds out he’s dying of cancer and tries to set his affairs in order. He works in the Barcelona criminal underground. His actions create chaos, terror, arrest and even death of people that trust him. His illness changes his perspective and his outlook. Even though Biutiful is linear and does not intertwine more than one plot, the narrative follows a circular story. The film’s plot is booked-ended and of the main story consist of a flashback.

The film begins with Uxbal and his daughter discussing his mother’s ring and remembering the sounds of a radio show he listened to when he was young. He gives her the ring and you can hear her saying “Papa, Papa?”. The viewer is then transported to a snowy forest where there is a dead owl. A young man appears. He discuss the fact that owls spit up hairballs when they die and tells Uxbal to take his ponytail down because it frightens the owls. The man talks about the salt water that used to be there.
Then he makes the sound of the water, then the sound of the wind and then concludes with the sounds they make together; which makes Uxbal genuinely laugh. They share a smoke and the man walks off. Uxbal asks “What’s over there?”, he follows him and the snow begins to fall.

The audience is then transported to the flashback, or the major part of the story. At the end of the movie, we see Uxbal and Anna in bed talking. After he gives her the ring, the audience sees him outside his body and knows that he has passed and the snowy sequence begins again as Anna says “Papa, Papa?” Now the audience now knows that the man is his father and he leads him into a new world.

Sound…

Iñárritu states that “sound is 50% of a film or sometimes even more” (Deleyto 2010 p. 132). The musical score is part of that percentage. The use of sound and silence to provide an emotional element that adds to the visual images onscreen. According to Routledge’s Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts states the function of music should provide a framework for the film and seal the spectator-screen relationship (Hayward 2012). “Deportation/Iguazu” from Babel begins when Emilia is told that she will be deported, continues with a flashback of the two brothers enjoying themselves and accompanies Mrs.Jones while she is being loaded into the Red Cross helicopter and ends with the doctor coming out to talk to Mr. Jones about her condition. “Composer Gustavo Santaolalla was drawn to an instrument called the ude, an ancestor to the lute and guitar, and sounding much like the Japanese instrument koto, to connect the Arab, Spanish and Japanese locations” (AFI n.d.).

The Sound Designer, Martín Hernández, provide silence as technique to garnish an emotional response to the characters. The use of silence punctuates the Japanese teenager’s, Chieko, frustration as a deafmute. There are several scenes where the audience experiences her auditory point of view, silence. The a nightclub segment provides her experience while in utter silence as sweaty dancers writhe erotically to the pounding beat. The audience relates to her terror of never being able to hear.

Biutiful’s “Meditacion#9” provides the soundbed for the strongest imagery in the film. Fretting from the deaths of the Chinese immigrants, he tells Marambra to go out of town without him. As he ends this conversion, his fate become clear to him. The image of the birds changing direction in flight provides the counterpoint image with the soundtrack. Another of Iñárritu‘s stylistic uses of sound is to show emotion without words. By providing Uxbal’s subjective perspective, the viewer can pick up on the emotions felt by him.

Babel and Biutiful’s Director of Cinematography, Rodrigo Prieto….

uses different techniques to provide emotional content through composition, camera movement, color and aspect ratios. Prieto’s use of these techniques in both films with different results to portray terror, anxiety and loss of control. Babel illustrates an example this right after Susan is shot. “The handheld camera swings wildly around the bus while framing becomes decentred and unclassical when bodies of panicking tourists obscure Susan; leading the audience confused as to what happened” (Tierney 2009).

Biutiful’s visual palette is extraordinary because it changes as the character Uxbal changes. In the beginning, the character is wound tightly. First, the handheld camera work is shaky and unstable to illustrate his anxiety and need to be in control. Once he digests the fact that he will die, he surrenders. This sets his soul free and the the way the images are captured and portrayed illustrates this freedom.
“Stability creeps into the handheld camera movements, Uxbal’s mind has expanded and is shown through use of aspect ratios” (Slater 2011). The colors of Uxbal world also morph into a pleasant palette as he nears death. The bookended segments are full of light; a contrast to his home that he just left in Barcelona.

This study of Iñárritu’s auteur style…

from Babel and Biutiful proves that his creative team is very much part of this creative output. Uses of structure, technique and sound will impact audiences and film studies for years to come. Reviewing his latest and future films will be a pleasure for this writer.

Works Cited


Authority on American Film (AFI

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Natural Cleaning Booklet

Artist’s Statement

Creating Natural Cleaning for project three was a challenge. I took over 100 picture with the Nikon D5100 DLSR camera. I ended up with eight photographs featured, as listed below:

  • Bottle of Essential Oil
  • Box of Borax
  • Bottle of Castile’s Liquid Soap
  • Lemon, Lots of Lemons
  • All-Purpose Cleaner Ingredients
  • Box of Baking Soap
  • More Lemons and Sea Salt
  • A Bowl of Citrus
  • My Signature

Incorporated was a scanned image of a spiral notebook. I wanted to use it in the magazine spread but I think it worked better here. I grouped the image for the spreads and added a colored rectangle to the bleed. When printing to the postscript file the realization that the old table of contents was grouped within these two objects began apparent. The objects were accessed on the interior master page and ungrouped. Then, the old tale of contents was deleted and all the objects put back into place.
The booklet’s topic covered natural cleaning. The format was a cook book, Six recipes were included with a table of contents. The storyline threaded to another page.
Color was handling through the Swatch panel. I used the Kuler extension to pick a pallet. Other colors brought in from the images listed below and the border images. Spot and sampled colors were converts to process colors.
I really enjoyed learning the page transition feature. I appreciate getting html to pop into any website.

Technical Statement – Colophon

Scanned Images

Used a notebook for edges of pages. Choose calibrate and characterized scanner profile when setting up. Scanned image using the RGB color space and 300 dpi. Using adobe photo shop CS6, global and local adjustments tweaked with the following tools:

  • Level
  • Hue/saturation
  • Curve
  • Color balance
  • Unsharp mask
  • Brightness/contrast

Digital Images

Taken with Nikon D5100 DLSR camera. Modification made and cropped to size in Adobe Photo Shop CS6. Both types of files were converted to the CMYK space and the SWOP v2 Coated Profile. Saved to a TIFF file.

Adobe InDesign Layout

Created a new 12 facing page layout with Portrait Orientation each page is 5 inches by five inches. Layout has .25 margins and .25 page bleeds on each side. Color pallet created in Kuler extension. Style Sheet setup using paragraph styles. An interior page master was created and applied to recipe pages. By placing images in document, a link was created. Created TOC from paragraphs style called “Recipe Title”. Used print booklet option. Created printer preset to created postscript file that when open creates a PDF file.

Delta E (CIE 1976)

The Equation

The color difference, or ΔE, between two colors: L1a1b1 and L2a2b2 is:

Equation 1

A Definition

ColorWiki.com reports Delta-E (dE) is a single number that represents the ‘distance’ between two colors.

An Illustration

1931 CIExy Chromaticity Diagram

Statement of the Problem

When I conceived this idea, I had just brushed the surface of color knowledge.  I soon found out that few spectrophotometers or colorimeters capture the colorimerty data from the emitted light on a display device.  Display characterization devices, such as the X-Rite i1 measures the light to calibrate, but provide no numerical color data. Such devices do not output the spectral data. After many inquiries to X-Rite and waiting for the engineers to return my call, I finally got an answer about SpectraShop 4, software program that would not only measure, but provide a report of measured colormertic data. SpectraShop 4 is a great piece of software. I think that it has great potential for future use of color measurement needs.

This study has practical application for mobile device manufacturers. Creators of content for mobile devices would be the other group of people who would benefit from this research as users of the content. The industry needs to educate the consumers who might make important color decisions using a mobile device that does not accurately reproduction the original image’s color correctly.

The problem is a current issue that needs to be solved. The population affected is overall is huge and includes all countries that have mobile devices. People who own smart phone are usually innovators and influence others. This is important to understand because the mobile device market is only going to increase. Industries that will be effected include graphic design, publishing, medical testing, food quality and most sciences. Anyone who makes a decision based on color from a mobile device would benefit from the finding and conclusions of this study.

This study’s problem stems from the relationship of the mobile display’s technology and how this technology accurately renders color. The dependent variable is control image. The causal or independent variable is the sample of current mobile devices and is responsible for the change in problem variable. The control image is a function of the mobile device and the differences will be examined. If there is a change in causal variable (as a change in device), then there is an expected change in the problem variable.

 

Sheet-fed Offset Lithographic Press

Houston Skyline

Houston Skyline (Photo credit: seoulpolaris)

The DIGM 3350 class did not have to venture far this week. Between the U of H campus and downtown Houston was the manufacturing printing plant called Chas. P. Young Co. CPY is under the corporate umbrella of Consolidated Graphics, one of the nation’s industry leader in printing production. This organization provides many services, more than we covered. Our focus remained on lithography. Robert was our tour guide. He graduated from our program in 2009. I remembered him from speaking at an IGAEAUH meeting.
Our first tour stop was the Sales Area. This is where the Executives live. The real control of the company also resides here, Sales and Finance. The salesmen bring in a requests for an estimate. Three estimator price the job and return it back to sales. When the sale is made, the project moves to preproduction. A Customer Service Representative (CSR) is assigned to the client to assure the project is done right.
We ventured down the hall to the Pre-press department. This is where the client sends their image file. A color proof from that file is produced to check all the variables and to get an OK from the client. If the client does not provide their own file, the graphics setup charge run around $200/hr.
Right next door is the Plate Room. The Platesetter used by CPY is a Fuji Luxel VX-9600. I looked the machine up:
•2 laser array – violet
•can produce up to 43 plates per hour
•8 resolution choices
•aluminum violet photopolymer plates
•weights 3882 lbs.
Our next stop on the tour was the Press Room. In one area, there was 2 40″ 6 color, sheet-fed lithographic presses. One of the presses was down, so we got to get really close and checked out the delivery system between towers. Of course I asked what something was that nobody knew what it was. The other machine was in the process of make-ready, which includes setting up press, installing the plates and preparing all the systems. Each tower has its own plate and produces one color. These six towers produce CYMK plus a spot color and an aqueous coating that dries almost instantly. This seals the ink, protects the output and allows for faster processing.
They also have a Ryobi, just the one in our image transfer lab. It is 18″ 2 color lithographic press. CPY uses theirs for business stationery and small runs because it is more economical.
Next we got to take a peek at the 4-color cold-set full web press. The cold-set attribute means that the substrate is of newspaper quality. This press has a variation on the printing method. It is called blanket-to-blanket. These two cylinders act as each others impression cylinder, so it is eliminated. Because of this, the press is categorized as a perfecting press or duplex. Two color are printed per side using the same lithographic process as other presses. The difference is this press can run 500-700 ft/min and the web rolls are less expensive.
Our last stop was the Bindery. There was a Challenger paper-cutter like ours. Folding machines were being run and mail was being prepared to go out. The process that had everyone’s attention was the saddle stitching line machine. the signatures were hanging over a bar that dropped them in order along the conveyor belt, then they are stitched and trimmed on three sides. Very efficient.
I would do business with CPY because they are an established organization, backed by a powerful industry leader. They are service-driven. I think that the organization would go out of their way to make sure I was happy as a customer. It’s easier to keep a customer that trying to gain a new one. I know CPY understands this.
I remember hearing Robert speak about his experience through CGX‘s Leadership Development program. That was a year and a half ago. When I saw his face, it all came back to me. I found the career information and am going to apply.