Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arriaga versus Iñárritu

BabelA battle seems to be raging between screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga and director González Iñárritu, says Terrence Rafferty in The New York Times.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that Mr. Arriaga, in May, had been forbidden to attend the Cannes Film Festival premiere of the latest movie he had written, “Babel” (opening Friday in New York) — forbidden, that is, by his principal collaborator, the film’s director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, with whom he had previously worked on “Amores Perros” (2000) and “21 Grams” (2003). The director, according to the article, was “apparently miffed that Arriaga claimed much of the credit for the critical success of ‘21 Grams.’ ”

Although the Cannes embargo makes Mr. González Iñárritu look petulant, it should be noted that Mr. Arriaga has, since the success of “Amores Perros,” been a vocal and remarkably insistent promoter of the importance of screenwriters. “People go to films for the stories,” he has said. “They remember the films for the stories.” And he has been known to claim personal responsibility for “95 percent of the structure of ‘21 Grams’ ” and “almost 99 percent of the structure of ‘Amores Perros’ ” — both films, of course, having been widely praised for the ingenuity and complexity of their narrative construction. Healthy debate? This is shaping up as something more like one of those ugly, acrimonious rock-band breakups. Or a dogfight.
Photo: Brad Pitt in Babel, written by Guillermo Arriaga and directed by González Iñárritu.

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