Amores Perros, which was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film the year of its release, also boasts incredibly rich and realistic set dressing. What is set dressing, exactly? Think trash, stains, dust, and time. Think life.

Only after the location is chosen, the sets are built and the furniture is put in place, do the set dressers finally get to work. Every location is a different puzzle. Each detail, from curtains, rugs, crockery, books, and photographs down to the ashtrays and cigarette butts, is a cue about the movie’s characters: their routines, their preferences, their upbringing and their hangups. In this video, we explore how the places and conditions we live in are both responsible for our character and a consequence of our actions.

Amores Perros is now streaming on Fandor until May 31st.

Did you like this edition of Designing Emotion? Then check out our first entry in the series on Amélie. And if you loved this deep dive behind the scenes of a great movie, then don’t miss our videos about Filming the Future, Bunnies, Brad Pitt, & Imaginary Friends, and The Pleasures of Minimal Editing!