Blog Directory CineVerse: It's a dog-eat-dog world out there

It's a dog-eat-dog world out there

Friday, July 3, 2020

Amores Perros can be a challenging watch, especially for dog lovers and those averse to graphic violence in their chosen motion pictures. But those who stick it out are rewarded in their realization that this richly layered film boasts many truths and insightful observations about the human experience and the precarious nature of relationships--or lack thereof. Our CineVerse group's post-viewing discussion covered several fascinating topics, including the following:

What did you find interesting, unexpected, or memorable about this film?

  • While all the acting performances are top-notch, the dogs are arguably the best actors if we are to believe that none were hurt during the making of the movie.
  • The filmmakers employ unique approaches for each of the three segments. In story #1, we’re shown more close-ups; story #2 relies more on medium-shots; and story #3 more commonly uses long shots and densely layered compositions from a farther distance. The film stock and color tones are different for each segment, as well.

Themes woven into Amores Perros

  • Fidelity and disloyalty, as demonstrated by many characters, including Octavio, Susana and Ramiro, and Daniel and Valeria. Because dogs are synonymous with loyalty and obedience, they are also fitting characters within the film.
  • Man’s best friend is representational of his owner.
    • Consider how Cofi is introduced as a companion pet but devolves into a violent killer, similar to Octavio and Ramiro. Ponder how Ritchie is pampered and coddled like Valeria, but ends up lost and injured, much like its owner, who isn’t in control of her life just as she lacks control of her pet. And think about how Cofi is eventually taken in by El Chivo; but as with his new owner, he kills those around him, causing the homeless man to reevaluate his life and the negativity he is responsible for, which leads him to change.
    • Due to the chaotic and unstable lives of their masters, every dog we see ends up suffering, becoming more violent, or becoming the victim of violence by the tale’s conclusion.
  • The haphazard impact of fate upon different walks of life. The car crash, shared by all three main characters, is a violent random occurrence that appears less preordained than indiscriminate, random, and unpredictable.
    • We also observe three different social classes in this picture: the upper class (Valeria and Daniel); the lower-middle class (Octavio, Susana, and Ramiro), and the poor lower class (El Chivo).
    • Blogger Natalie Stendall wrote: “The transient connections between lives – the unexpected, fleeting crossovers – suggest a bigger, metaphysical presence in the universe. In the moments leading up to the second and third times we see the car crash, we anticipate it, we can feel it is about to happen. But we’re always shocked when it does. The context is different each time and so are the angles it’s captured from, more details are revealed. This peculiar blend of anticipation and surprise draws our attention to the interconnected nature of life.”
  • The interconnectedness of human beings and how we all experience both joy and suffering and share common emotions, including love, hate, lust, fear, longing, and loneliness.
  • Unrequited love, and the challenge of finding and sharing love in a cruel and complex world. Recall how Octavio doesn’t end up with Susana; Valeria loves Ritchie more than Daniel, but Ritchie abandons her and Daniel may be cheating on her as he did with his wife; and El Chivo wants to be a part of his estranged daughter’s life but knows he probably can’t.
  • Redemption. This is possibly achieved by El Chivo but not the other characters—whom we see in melancholy, somber moods of defeat at the ends of their stories.
  • “We are also what we have lost.” These words are displayed at the conclusion of the film and suggest that suffering, estrangement, separation, betrayal, and unreciprocated love are all part of the human experience and factor into the persons we become.

Many of the stories and characters share commonalities. Can you name any?

  • All three stories conclude with the main character alone and presumably left unloved by someone they adore.
  • Story #1 and 3 depict brothers who try to harm or murder each other.
  • Each of the three stories and main characters is involved in a violent car crash, the point at which all three tales and personalities intersect.
  • All three segments feature dogs, especially canines that end up suffering or dying.
  • Each segment depicts a father who doesn’t fulfill his responsibility to his children or abandons them.

Other movies that Amores Perros brings to mind

  • Hyperlink films that contain different storylines and characters who eventually converge and cross paths, including Pulp Fiction, Crash, Grand Canyon, and Short Cuts
  • Non-linear narratives that employ time shifts and which may revisit scenes told from another perspective, including Pulp Fiction, Mulholland Drive, Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Godfather Part II, Once Upon a Time in America, and Hiroshima Mon Amour
  • Films by surrealist director Luis Bunuel, including Tristana and Los Olivados
  • Dekalog by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Other notable works by Alejandro González Iñárritu

  • 21 Grams
  • Babel
  • Birdman
  • The Revenant

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