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Interview: Guillermo Arriaga

GuillermoArriagaWhen a screenwriter sits down to write a script, he or she is probably considering the audience. A top priority is ensuring that moviegoers can follow the story and understand the characters’ situations. Guillermo Arriaga approaches film in a completely different manner. People don’t tell their stories in a chronological manner, so why should a screenwriter?

After sitting down and talking with Arriaga about his latest film, The Burning Plain, I couldn’t speak to anyone without examining the way I conveyed my information. Sure enough, Arriaga is right. I didn’t tell my friend I went to interview an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter then ran back to my apartment before meeting her for coffee. I had to throw in that I ran back to my apartment because I went out the night before and left my wallet in a different bag. We expect out movies to be told linearly when, in fact, most of life happens non-linearly.

That’s the approach Arriaga is known for taking with his work. It started with Amores Perros and went on to 21 Grams, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Babel for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and now to his latest The Burning Plain. All the details come together for the audience, but it’s baffling that one man can sort out so many elements to attain that effect.

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Review: The Burning Plain

TheBurningPlainPosterThe Burning Plain is like finishing a jigsaw puzzle when you’ve already seen the cover of the box. You’re thrilled about putting together all the pieces, but once that initial pleasure wears off, you’re left with exactly what you knew you were going to get and have nowhere to put it. Academy Award nominated screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga continues to use his signature multi-narrative structure in his directorial debut. Funny thing is, this first-time director’s film falters in the area he’s well seasoned in, the screenwriting. Just like his highly acclaimed films Babel and 21 Grams, The Burning Plain makes the viewer think. The problem is, you’re never compensated for your work.

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