Amores Perros & 2666: Showcasing Mexico At Its Modern Worst

Although Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2000 film Amores Perros is not an epic piece of literature in the same impressively expansive vein as Roberto Bolaño’s 2004 novel, 2666, the similarities between the two works are far-reaching. With both stories taking place in Mexico–Amores Perros in Mexico City and 2666 in the fictional town of San Teresa (presumably based on Juárez, or perhaps a mashup of Mexico City and Juárez)–the pervasively corrupt nature of Mexico as a whole reveals itself with illuminating ease.

Roberto Bolaño, author of 2666
Roberto Bolaño, author of 2666
The intertwined storytelling method in each tale not only shows how disparate lives existing under the class divide of Mexico invariably and unexpectedly intertwine, but also the struggle to survive on even the most basic human level. In Iñárritu’s story, the narrative is divided into three parts, Octavio y Susana, Daniel y Valeria and El Chivo y Maru, while Bolaño’s novel is written in five segments (originally intended to be sold separately in order for the publisher to make more money), The Part About the Critics, The Part About Amalfitano, The Part About Fate, The Part About the Crimes and The Part About Archimboldi.
Octavio (Bernal) portrayed with the overt symbolism of duality as he cheats with his brother's wife, Susana (Vanessa Bauche)
Octavio (Bernal) portrayed with the overt symbolism of duality as he cheats with his brother’s wife, Susana (Vanessa Bauche)
With each of these narrative divisions comes the unity of a universal motif. In Amores Perros, loyalty vs. disloyalty is the prevalent theme, with the emblem of a dog (generally speaking and in particular with Ocatvio’s dog, Cofi) being the most overt representation of this. Betrayal and secrecy characterizes the lives of all the main characters, in addition to their corrupt means of eking out a living to pay for the necessities of the day to day. Similarly, 2666 explores the depths of human evil, and how limitless it can be when dealing with the desire not only to survive, but to move up in the socioeconomic strata.
Book cover for 2666
Book cover for 2666
The ability of each artist to imbue every character–no matter how seemingly insignificant their “screen time” may be–with complexity and relevance to the story is another trait each work possesses. Every piece of the story is a part of the larger puzzle, to an extent that leaves the viewer/reader questioning not only what motivates his or her own existence but what motivates existence as a whole. What we are driven by, according to Amores Perros and 2666, in a landscape of extreme scarcity (Mexico), is self-preservation by any means necessary–regardless of how violent or amoral.