Babel

November 10th, 2006








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Babel

Still of Cate Blanchett in BabelBabelPaz Vega at event of BabelStill of Gael García Bernal in BabelStill of Brad Pitt in BabelStill of Rinko Kikuchi in Babel

Plot
Tragedy strikes a married couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert, touching off an interlocking story involving four different families.

Release Year: 2006

Rating: 7.6/10 (131,202 voted)

Critic's Score: 69/100

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal

Storyline
4 interlocking stories all connected by a single gun all converge at the end and reveal a complex and tragic story of the lives of humanity around the world and how we truly aren't all that different. In Morocco, a troubled married couple are on vacation trying to work out their differences. Meanwhile, a Moroccan herder buys a rifle for his sons so they can keep the jackals away from his herd. A girl in Japan dealing with rejection, the death of her mother, the emotional distance of her father, her own self-consciousness, and a disability among many other issues, deals with modern life in the enormous metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. Then, on the opposite side of the world the married couple's Mexican nanny takes the couple's 2 children with her to her son's wedding in Mexico, only to come into trouble on the return trip. Combined, it provides a powerful story and an equally...

Writers: Guillermo Arriaga, Guillermo Arriaga

Cast:
Brad Pitt - Richard Jones
Cate Blanchett - Susan Jones
Mohamed Akhzam - Anwar
Peter Wight - Tom
Harriet Walter - Lilly
Trevor Martin - Douglas
Matyelok Gibbs - Elyse
Georges Bousquet - Robert
Claudine Acs - Jane
André Oumansky - Walter
Michael Maloney - James
Dermot Crowley - Barth
Wendy Nottingham - Tourist #1
Henry Maratray - Tourist #2
Linda Broughton - Tourist #3

Taglines: If You Want to be Understood...Listen



Details

Official Website: Paramount Vantage [United States] | West Video [Russia] |

Release Date: 10 November 2006

Filming Locations: Azabu-Juban, Tokyo, Japan

Box Office Details

Budget: $25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $389,351 (USA) (29 October 2006) (7 Screens)

Gross: $132,700,000 (Worldwide)



Technical Specs

Runtime:



Did You Know?

Trivia:
17 days before shooting was to commence in Morocco, none of the characters had been cast. The production crew made an announcement in the nearest town via television and radio and in the mosques that actors were needed. Within the next 24 hours, over 200 people showed up hoping to participate. Almost all of them are in the final cut of the film, both as principal characters and as extras.

Goofs:
Crew or equipment visible: Camera shadow on Brad Pitt and the blue car as it passes him behind the stopped bus.

Quotes:
[first lines]
Hassan: It's almost new. Three hundred cartridges. The guy who gave it to me said you can hit as far as three kilometers.



User Review

An Exhausting Film

Rating: 6/10

Alas, it appears that, based on other user comments here at IMDb, I am in the minority on this film. I found it to be tedious and exhausting, and the effort I put into sticking with it far outweighed any sense of closure I received from it.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu appeared at the screening I saw and introduced his film as the final entry in a trilogy that includes "Amores Perros" and "21 Grams." Inarritu, in a comment that surprised me, said that his intent with this trilogy was not to focus on politics or social commentary, but rather to look at the modern family and what it means to be a father, son, mother, daughter, etc. This may have been his intention, but I don't feel that over the course of three entire films Inarritu did say much about these issues. Instead, he has painted a portrait of the world as he apparently sees it as a pretty bleak, uncaring and unforgiving place to live. I thought "Amore Perros" was so pessimistic as to border on nihilism; "21 Grams" came closer to finding a sense of peace and redemption among the general human crappiness. "Babel" sticks closer to the sentiments of the first film than the latter.

"Babel" is of course about communication, or more exactly miscommunication, in the modern world. It's a theme that has engaged the interest of many a filmmaker lately -- the idea that technology has made instant communication so much easier, yet people seem to be more than ever incapable of understanding one another. It's a conceit that greatly interests me, but Inarritu doesn't exploit its potential here. "Babel" consists of a monotonous series of scenes in which people shout, storm, fight and talk over one another, always in a hurry to be understood without taking the time to understand. Very well, point taken. But Inarritu makes this point within the film's first half hour -- you only need see one or two scenes of this kind of frustrating verbal gridlock to understand what he's trying to say; after that, the frustration just mounts without any kind of pay off. People are mean to one another, some are unbelievably callous (I didn't buy for a second that the group of tourists who accompany Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's characters to a remote Moroccan village after Blanchett is accidentally shot would be so uncaring as Inarritu depicts them). In Inarritu's world, all authority figures are to be justifiably feared, as they go around beating everybody up and pulling guns on innocent people. There's no nuance here; Inarritu pounds his message into you. For example, he obviously feels strongly about the mistreatment of illegal immigrants, especially those from Mexico, but instead of engaging in an intelligent debate about the topic, he sets up such an implausible, not to mention one-sided, scenario in this film that you can't help but agree with him.

The biggest disappointment in "Babel" is his failure to fully utilize a couple of wonderful actors he has assembled. Cate Blanchett is utterly wasted as the caustic American wife whose shooting sets off the chain of events. And Gael Garcia Bernal likewise gets nothing to do as a hot-headed Mexican whose attempts to run from border patrol creates a sad ending for one of the major characters. Brad Pitt does better than expected with the frenzied, frustrated husband of Blanchett. But these people have no history. We know virtually nothing about anybody in the film, yet are expected to care deeply about what happens to them. Maybe that's part of Inarritu's point -- that we're all connected to one another even if we don't know it, and that the world has become so small that there are no longer such things as strangers in it. But this is a film narrative, not real life, and you can't build a compelling one out of anonymous characters.

After "21 Grams" I thought I was warming up to Inarritu, but this film has sent me back to the detractors' camp. He certainly knows how to put a movie together, and he finds engaging ways to tell his stories. But his attitudes and approach to the modern world are so depressing and fatalistic that his films push me away rather than draw me in.

Grade: C+




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