Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia
Bernal, Rinko Kikuchi, Adriana Barraza, Koji Yakusho, Michael
Pena, Clifton Collins Jr., Elle Fanning
RunTime: 2 hrs 22 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes)
Official Website: http://www.paramountvantage.com/babel
Opening Day: 25 January 2007
A tragedy strikes a married couple on vacation, interweaving
four stories set in Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico, and Japan. In
the remote sands of the Moroccan desert, a rifle shot rings
out--detonating a chain of events that will link an American
tourist couple’s frantic struggle to survive, two Moroccan
boys involved in an accidental crime, a nanny illegally crossing
into Mexico with two American children and a Japanese teen
rebel whose father is sought by the police in Tokyo. Separated
by clashing cultures and sprawling distances, each of these
four disparate groups of people are nevertheless hurtling
towards a shared destiny of isolation and grief. In the course
of just a few days, they will each face the dizzying sensation
of becoming profoundly lost--lost in the desert, lost to the
world, lost to themselves--as they are pushed to the farthest
edges of confusion and fear as well as to the very depths
of connection and love.
The creation of the different languages and cultures could
have been traced back to the construction of the tower of
Babel. Humans were speaking in the same language and were
highly efficient in constructing a tower that reaching the
gates of heaven. To put a stop to it, God made them speak
in different languages and disconnecting the ability to communicate
among each other, which resulted in the entire construction
process coming to a halt.
might seems that this movie it tackling on the problems caused
by different languages as it’s taking place in three
different continents and using 3 different languages other
than English to tell four different intertwining stories.
On a closer look, it might be suggesting that the movie is
trying to highlight the breakdown in communication among people.
as Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) as the frantic
couple who are trying to get help in the Moroccan desert after
Susan been shot by a stray bullet. The language barrier between
this couple and the locals that result in difficulties in
getting help is secondary compared to the breakdown in communication
between the couple.
Richard and Susan are dealing with a recent tragedy but neither
of them is able to effectively communicate to each other on
the matter, creating a rift in their strain relationship.
In the midst of a place that’s predominated by foreign
language and foreign law, the crux of this segment was really
whether could they heal the rift between before time runs
out for them.
other story in this continent was more straightforward in
drawing the line where the communication fails. The father
of the two children who involved with the accidental crime
could have prevented the accident from happening if he had
communicate the danger and responsibilities of handling a
weapon and the authorities could have chosen tactful methods
in looking for those who caused the accident. But it’s
such minor matters that we tend to overlook which results
in tragic outcomes.
the other side of the world, a Mexican nanny faces racial
discrimination treatments as she tried to cross the US custom
with her American wards. While the Moroccan segment got going
fairly early, the Mexican segment took a while before the
climatic error in misjudgment due to miscommunication. It
was quite a drag and more issues could have been drawn out
from the uneasy tension at the Mexican American borders that
is currently plaguing the two countries.
last story arc concerning the Japanese teenager is the seemly
least connected with the rest of the stories. One could argue
that it’s the weakest link among all four stories but
by the way it distancing itself for the other stories brought
forth one of the best short stories about alienation in the
busy cosmopolitan setting.
the surface, it might seem that it’s all about the stereotypical
Japanese teenagers who is having her sexual awakening. The
methods that Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) used in her approach towards
men that she fancy felt like it was straight out from a Japanese
Adult Video (Japanese Porn for the uninitiated) and those
methods were awkwardly, depraved and rather blatantly.
a closer look, these actions are really a desperate plead
for acceptance in her life and seeking solitude to deal with
events that had affected her for a long time. While Rinko
Kikuchi is not the prettiest Japanese actress around, she
brought forth a more believable performance of the sensibility
and emotions of an average Japanese teenager trying to fit
woes of miscommunication are explicitly and subtly touch on
through out Babel. While some hit home the message instantly,
others need savored after leaving the theater. It’s
not an easy film to follow and viewers often get yanked out
of a certain segment before able to fully immense themselves
into the story and character that the segment is trying to
say. It can get a bit disconnecting but stay till the end
and you will discover what Babel is talking about.
(In traditions of Traffic, Syriana and Crash, Babel’s
topic on communications shouldn’t be missed)
Review by Richard Lim Jr