Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths’ is a surreal exploration of themes such as immigration, family, identity, art, memory, and dream. The plot revolves around Silverio Gama (Daniel Giménez Cacho), an accomplished Mexican journalist turned documentary filmmaker. In the weeks before he was slated to become the first Latin American recipient of the fictional Alethea Award, he returns to his native country for the first time in 15 years. The events in the movie are depicted through Silverio’s perspective, which is heavily ladled with surrealism, oftentimes making it rather difficult to discern between what is real and what isn’t.
Like most other films, TV shows, or pieces of literature, the title of ‘Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths’ denotes the core themes of the plot. Here is everything you need to know about it. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Bardo Meaning and Significance
The phrase “Bardo” is Tibetan Buddhist in origin and the rough translation of it is the state of existence between life and death. In the film, this denotes that Silverio is in a coma after suffering from a stroke. From the beginning, every single frame of the movie has a surreal aspect, denoting that what we see on the screen might not be reality. Moreover, the transition between any two scenes is seamless and happens within a single shot. That is quite rare in modern cinema, where abrupt sequence changes often imply a shift in pace and even perspective.
This means everything we see until the revelation about Silverio’s stroke is part of his dream. His brain is trying to make sense of his memories, and that has manifested as this surrealistic version of reality.
The other part of the title, “False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths,” underscores Iñárritu’s approach to the project. ‘Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths’ is a deeply personal film, and Silverio is a stand-in character for the director. Silverio’s latest film is even called ‘False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths,’ a docufiction based on his life. However, ‘Bardo’ is not an autobiography but a fictionalized account of certain truths about Iñárritu.
In an interview with Awards Watch, Iñárritu spoke about how he and his writing partner, Nicolás Giacobone, created this complex world. “So, what I’m saying is all these things [various aspects of his life and family] in a way were laid down and then what I did is was I fictionalized all of them,” the filmmaker said.