Ana Lily

The Bad Batch is a vibrant and surreal western with a quiet drifter (Suki Waterhouse), a towering but sensitive cannibal (Jason Momoa), a mute savior (Jim Carrey), and a mysterious leader called the Dream (Keanu Reeves). Ana Lily Amirpour‘s film mixes death and loss, psychedelia and body builders, to tell a story that’s certainly original. Amirpour’s follow-up to her breakout debut, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, feels like a completely new body built with a few old spare parts.

The writer-director’s sophomore effort has a kind of freewheeling, acid-induced flow to it – shots are bursting with color and life. Amirpour told us about imagining some of these frames along with creating the world, Arlen and Miami Man, and the music from The Bad Batch.

Below, read our Ana Lily Amirpour interview.

This movie has definitely stuck with me since seeing it.

Can you tell me what pieces stayed with you? I’m very curious.

The visuals, for sure, but I like the idea of watching someone completely adjust to a different way of life, basically having to abandon the way you looked at the world and question what’s good and bad in a place like this. 

I love hearing how people interact with it, and remember, and think about things, too.

Have any interpretations in particular stood out for you?

I feel like for me, when one of the things that … It’s just weird. I’m just realizing it now as I’m having these conversations with people about the movie. I think because it’s a movie that, for me, looks at and reflects on American systems and our social cultural systems and realities and tensions. It’s questioning what makes us who we are, and questioning our environment, and the hand we’re dealt. I don’t know. I just feel like the conversations that I’ve got into with people about it, when they connect to it in a certain way, are really deep and psychedelic. Like, you know? It’s not something where you’d be like, oh it’s cool when that happened. Like, we’re talking about the fabric of humanity in a way.

I know you started off with the image of a girl missing an arm and a leg. What other images and ideas did you have in mind from the beginning? 

I think like, that [image of a girl missing an arm and a leg] was really the leading thing and it was the feeling of being that incapacitated by life. But, trying to be brave, and just going on, and figuring out how you exist again, and again, and again; which is what I feel like I’m just always doing. And then I knew that there was going to be this small desert community of survivors in a lifeboat out there. Like, the dream and comfort and you know, someone who is rebuilding civilization or society and so it was really fun to … ‘Cause I knew I wanted to have this guy [the Dream]. And he just got these people in this town and he’s protecting them and taking care of them in a way. And that he was gonna be dishing out psychedelics and that there would be these weekly gatherings and stuff. So, it was just another thing I was planning and was a fun thing to observe and design the story; was creating that weird nighttime alter-ego of the desert.

There’s a life in a day kind of approach in The Bad Batch, where you don’t have every character stopping to explain backstories or the world. You really go along with Arlen’s point of view.

Yeah. I mean, it’s weird though. I do actually have the answers. I’m planning on doing a one-off, a supplemental graphic novel. Because the backstories are really cool, I just thought it’d be fun to do that. So, I actually do know how the dream creates his little operation. But, I feel like do you every really know? Here we are in a city or a town in America or wherever you are. Do you really understand how the system works? Who does? I don’t even know if we can. We can sit here and grasp for the facts and the information but we know so little about the systems that we exist in.

You know what I mean? Like, even if you just think about how a certain plastic is made. That your coffee cup that you get every day at your coffee store … It’s so vast and overreaching; like all the things that comprise modern day life. I kind of stripped it down. I’m really interested in how civilization grows, and builds, and begins. And how we form these little societies and things that become “civilization.” But I feel like, for me anyway, we know so little about what our daily lives are made out of.

You seem to be asking some of the same questions as Arlene.

Yeah, you mean the shit speech?

Yeah. 

Like, you know, your shit goes away from you. I mean, it’s a miracle.

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