What Keeps Anthony Bourdain Excited About Making His Show

Longreads

Bourdain’s shows have grown more visually complex and cinematic over the years, using intricate editing and atmospheric slo-mo shots to add mystery and gravitas. Episodes are often directly inspired by Bourdain’s film passions. A season 2 trip into Tokyo’s nightlife underbelly–complete with segments on bondage and S&M–was informed by the work of Tokyo Fist director Shinya Tsukamoto, while the Shanghai episode currently unspooling on-screen tapped Hong Kong’s Wong Kar-wai as its key reference point. Bourdain usually picks the influences, but it’s up to the team to execute that vision. “Before we go out on a shoot, Tony will give us a homework assignment, which is about a dozen esoteric films,” says Brigden. “We become obsessed with those filmmakers. We live and breathe them.”

Bourdain is more than just Parts Unknown’s host, head writer, and executive producer; he is its creative engine, picking locations, teasing out themes, obsessing over narrative structure…

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