Why Anthony Bourdain's Final Narration in Parts Unknown Is So 'Uncanny', According to Director
"Who gets to tell the stories? This is a question asked often," Bourdain says in his final narration.
The season premiere of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is filled with both stunning views of Kenya and hilarious moments with Bourdain’s guest during the episode, W. Kamau Bell. But it’s the last 40 seconds that have the most impact.
After the credits roll on the episode, the travel host, who died by suicide in June at age 61, is seen sipping a beer while looking out at the Kenyan savanna.
“Who gets to tell the stories? This is a question asked often,” says Bourdain. “The answer in this case, for better or for worse, is I do—at least this time. I do my best. I look. I listen. But in the end, I know it’s my story, not Kamau’s, not Kenya’s, or Kenyans’. Those stories are yet to be heard.”
Because the Kenya episode is the last to feature Bourdain’s written narration, his final words are especially meaningful. During a panel at the Tribeca TV Festival on Saturday, Bell, the show’s director, Morgan Fallon, producers Sandy Zweig, Lydia Tenaglia and Chris Collins touched on that last scene, with Fallon calling it “uncanny.”
The choice to feature the short monologue, peppered with clips of his vibrant personality, after the credits was intentional, he said: “I think after lying on the floor for about 20 minutes after seeing it, it was an ‘ah-ha’ moment of like, this is important and it needs to be separate in its own thing and not burdened by credits and confusion and stuff like this, it needs to be set up this way.”
Collins noted that while “it’s easy to look at it and now and try to read something” from his words, Bourdain always understood what privilege it was to host Parts Unknown.
“We would go to these places and indeed as much as we turned the camera, the whole idea of the series from the get-go was, ‘I want my words to be heard, yes. But I want other peoples words and thoughts to be seen and heard as well,” said Collins. “That has been since the day we set on the road with him.”
“I just think obviously this is very difficult to look at,” he added of the scene. “Tony will always resonate further and farther. All is not said and done at this point.”
Parts Unknown airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CNN.