Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Paul Julian Smith

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | Critical and Cultural Studies | Film and Media Studies | Geography | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Literature | Latin American Studies | Other Film and Media Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Visual Studies


displacement, death, collision, mapping, entanglement, globalization


This thesis explores liminality conveyed as displacement before death in the network narrative films of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu. Due to their depiction of existential crises and possibly fatal scenarios of several characters in different countries and regions, these network narrative films are colloquially referred to as the “Death Trilogy.” Therefore, rearranging the many strands of death-related abstractions and notions in these films around liminality becomes a jumping-off point to explore deeper layers of these works. Through interdisciplinary yet markedly film studies excavations, this thesis projects the liminal spaces of Iñárritu’s films onto border spaces. With borders considered as sites of collision, entanglement, connection, and displacement and the varied scholarship on Iñárritu as a filmmaker of borders, this thesis will interchangeably use “liminal spaces” with “border spaces.” Borrowing from a range of sources and disciplines such as film studies, physics, mathematics, media studies, anthropology and Latin American studies, the project will seek to link the liminal border spaces in the films to those of the films’ non-filmic elements, such as production process and sociopolitical address. Different diagrams representing the filmic and non-filmic border spaces of each film will be used to help map and make clear the many constellations and linkages that will be revealed in this project. In carrying out the project with this methodology, the diagrams are meant to be a means, like Iñárritu’s films, of visually mediating the liminal border spaces associated with death that are felt most readily in a contemporary, globalized world.