In Babel, a tragic incident involving an American couple in Morocco sparks a chain of events for four families in different countries throughout the world. In the struggle to overcome isolation, fear, and displacement, eac... more »h character discovers that it is family that ultimately provides solace. 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. In this mesmerizing, emotional film that was shot in three continents and four languages ? and traverses both the deeply personal and the explosively political ? acclaimed director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Amores Perros) explores with shattering realism the nature of the barriers that seem to separate humankind. In doing so, he evokes the ancient concept of Babel and questions its modern day implications: the mistaken identities, misunderstandings and missed chances for communication that, though often unseen, drive our contemporary lives. Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, Kôji Yakusho, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi lead an international ensemble of actors and non-professional actors from Morocco, Tijuana and Tokyo, who enrich Babel?s take on cultural diversity and enhance its powerful examination of the links and frontiers between and within us.« less
Maybe Not The Significant Document Of Our Time It Hopes To B
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 12/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Babel" is the latest narratively and chronologically twisted epic from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. This is getting to be a specialty of his. He weaves different plots and characters together in unlikely ways hoping to surprise and enhance the dramatic affect of his storytelling. It brought him wide acclaim for his breakthrough "Amores Perros" a funny and thrilling ride for man and dog! The device was a bit more unnecessary in "21 Grams"--but that smaller film ended up being my choice for the best acted film of its year. But now he takes his skill and technical prowess to his biggest canvas yet.
"Babel" is set in Morocco, Mexico, Japan and the United States. We follow the interlocking stories of a Moroccan farming family, a couple of American tourists, a disaffected and deaf/mute Japanese schoolgirl, and a Mexican maid and her two American charges. One bullet brings all the stories together. As one of the tourists, Cate Blanchett, is accidentally shot--the repercussions are felt around the world.
This is an ambitious picture, and I do believe the narrative framing and structure enhance the overall experience. From a technical standpoint, there is not much more you could ask for--this is an awesome achievement. From editing, score, screenplay, cinematography and art direction--"Babel" is propelled to the short list of great studio films this year. The acting is uniformly excellent. Brad Pitt as Blanchett's husband and Rinku Kikuchi as the Japanese girl have been singled out repeatedly (and are likely Oscar contenders), but everyone here is in top form. This is heavy drama, and I can understand why that scares some people away--but the payoff is worth it. It is harrowing and unpleasant at times, but riveting and emotional throughout.
"Babel" is clearly a film made with serious intentions--and I'm not entirely sure it's as successful as it hopes to be. The philosophical implications, the biblical allegory, the effort to document the state of the world, the examination of a disaffected society, the randomness of the universal ties that bind, and the commentary at the lack of communication and understanding in the world--it's all here! There are certainly individual moments within "Babel" that will strike a chord, and it's definitely an intelligently made film, I just don't necessarily think that it is as "significant" as some make it out to be. I admire that it tries to deliver a social commentary without being "preachy"--but it moves perilously close at several times (times where 2 seconds of rational thought and explanation could have resolved something--but people were more villainous than understanding). Ultimately, though, I must embrace "Babel" as great adult filmmaking and powerful drama. About 4 1/2 stars from me--I'm rounding up for the sheer scope and ambition present. KGHarris, 12/06."
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 11/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Chapter 11 of Genesis tells a story of mankind's attempt to reach heaven by building a tower, not as a way to glorify God but as a way for mankind to glorify themselves by putting them on God's level. God strikes the plan down by confusing/creating different languages so that the builders cannot understand each other thereby suspending communication. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu, along with his screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga's take on this material is "Babel" their third and most ambitiously produced film with locales in Morocco, Japan, San Diego and Mexico and like the Bible story, Iñárritu is once again dealing with communication or lack thereof: how we talk and either no one listens or more to the point...doesn't understand. Simple themes told exceedingly well here. In the best sequence, shot in Japan a deaf mute girl, Chieko (Rinko Cucuchi), desperate for attention and contact other than she can get from her pals, tells (actually signs) to her father (a sad sack Koji Yakusho from "Shall We Dance?"): "You Never Listen to Me!" Ironic on at least a couple of levels. Chieko is reeling from the normal drama of being a teen as well as the not so normal drama of having found her Mother dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She is also dealing with a father who is also devastated and unable to comfort himself much less his daughter. They live in a glacial glass high-rise box in Tokyo: a symbol of the icy coldness of the lives that they live within. The two other parts of the film deal with the stars (a very good Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) in Morocco on vacation (!?) and a supposed terrorist attack and the third, a very real and scary sequence involving the Pitt/Blanchett children and their caretaker, Amelia (a terrific Adriana Barraza) and their harrowing journey into Baja California. Every one of Iñárritu's films ("Amores Perros," "21 Grams" and "Babel") contain at least one gut-wrenching, emotional and transcendentally beautiful scene: the dog fight in "Amores Perros," the Naomi Watts scene with Sean Penn in which she explains how it is to lose a family in a random accident in "21 Grams" and here in Babel: Chieko at a Shinto dance club, the soundtrack stopping and starting to approximate Chieko's experience, Chieko: wide-eyed, wide-eyed, mouth agape...experiencing a world in which feeling and touching is paramount and hearing isn't. Though Iñárritu and Arriaga stretch the "if a butterfly flutters its wings in Hawaii, etc." metaphor to the breaking point, there is no doubt that "Babel" has got the goods where it counts: deep in the recesses of its soul and heart. "
A film about anguish
Thomas Dunham | Catonsville, Maryland United States | 02/23/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"What a depressing film. This film is basically about a highly unlikey series of unfortunate events occuring to a small group of people, with each event more depressing and unbelievable than the last. It's an emotional snuff film, offering only a voyeuristic trip into human misery. If you like to watch people suffer at the mercy of situations beyond their control, then then film is for you!
About midway through this film it began to strike me almost as a parady of itself; the never-ending chain of gut-wrenching, anguishing events were truly over-the-top. The same movie could have been made simply by filming little children as their pet-kittens are pryed from their hands, and then thrown out the window into oncoming traffic. Do we really need a film to tell us how random and cruel life can be, or have people forgotten?
I found the Asian-girl (whatever her name was ) sub-plot to be by far the most interesting part of the overall story, but, sadly, also the least relevent; why involve the family of the man who brought the rifle to Morraco in this story? Why not be totally avent-garde, and show the suffering of the man who made the bullets at the ammo factory?
If you want to spend the evening feeling really, really bad, then watch this film. Otherwise steer clear..."
Babel is a good movie but it is missing something.
Porfie Medina | Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA | 02/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Babel is a movie based on a series of misunderstandings, and links the unfortunate circumstances of a Moroccan, an American, a Mexican and a Japanese family all through a rifle. A Moroccan family gets a rifle to protect their goats. The father lets his 2 sons use it while he runs errands. They want to see if the rifle can really shoot as far as they were told. They practice by shooting at the tiny cars below the hill that they are on. The youngest brother ends up hitting an American woman, on a bus tour with her husband. By the time the press gets a hold of the story they label the incident as a "terrorist attack". The same couple's children are being taken care of by their caretaker. The caretaker decides to take the kids to Mexico to attend her son's wedding. On their way back in to the U.S they face a few problems when it is discovered the women has been living in the U.S. as an illegal alien. A Japanese father is having trouble communicating with his deaf teenage daughter. The girl has been craving human affection ever since the death of her mother. All the stories are linked by the rifle. Brad Pitt and Rinko Kikuchi who plays the Japanese girl give great performances. All this probably sounds confusing but in the end it will all make sense. Brad Pitt and Rinko Kikuchi who plays the Japanese girl give great performances. BRAD PITT gives his best performance only after FIGHT CLUB. The one thing I did not like about this movie was the ending, which left me wanting to know more. The blu-ray disc of BABEL has amazing picture and sound but no bonus material what's so ever. Babel is a entertaining, yet sad movie that is worth taking a look at. Babel is up against The Departed for this years Best Picture Awards at the Oscars. I enjoyed this film but to me The Departed was a better movie and will most likely take home Best Picture Oscar. "
Are You Listening?
T. A. | 01/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has completed his trilogy of human sadness and isolation with his final installment of Babel. His previous films in the trilogy are 21 Grams and Amores Perros. His latest is an intense, depressing, and brilliant look into the way which we as humans perform miscommunication.
Babel is derived from the biblical story when man tried to reach heaven via a tower. Upset with the idea, God stopped the construction by creating different languages. Communication had become impossible.
The film is blessed with exceptional acting all around from actors and actresses of whom you probably have never heard. Okay, everyone is familiar with Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt but the rest of the cast is mostly of no names, at least to people here in America.
Babel easily could have been a lazy effort made by Director Inarritu. How so? A film with a running length of 142 minutes centered upon a simple idea of miscommunication doesn't sound very challenging, right? Wrong. This is where Inarritu has gone above and beyond. It would have been all too easy for his characters to not communicate simply because of language. Although the film does contain this aspect, the focus is primarily on the miscommunication of humans with the same language.
Richard (Pitt) and Susan (Blanchett) are on vacation in Morocco when a random bullet strikes Susan creating a chain of events for the viewer. Yes, Richard has trouble communicating to the locals about getting help, but look closer. A scene before this shows the couple unhappy with each other because of their child's death. Their miscommunication with each other has created a break in their relationship.
The random bullet is revealed to have been shot from two children who have a brother sibling rivalry with each other. The father's treatment of the younger brother causes the older brother to feel inadequate. Adding to the mix, the younger brother is confused and curious about his sexuality as he watches his sister undress (which she fully knows and fully enjoys the attention). This indeed is a family that lacks in the area of communication of their problems.
Richard and Susan's kids are taken care of by mexican nanny Amelia (Adriana Barraza). Amelia is thrown into a probable predicament. Amelia has her brother's wedding to attend in Mexico but Richard (because of his inability to listen) has insisted that she has no choice but to take care of his kids on her day off. So what does she do? Irresponsibly, she takes the kids with her to Mexico for the wedding and plans on bringing them back across the border into the States. It's funny how going into Mexico sure is easier than coming back. On the way back, she experiences the vigorous and ruthless laws of immigrating back into the U.S. It's too bad the border patrol and Amelia refuse to listen to each other. A tragedy of ghastly proportions ensues.
Meanwhile in Japan, Yasujiro (Koji Yakusho) is linked to the gun that has fired off the bullets. He and his deaf daughter Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) are having father-daughter problems. The suicide of Chieko's mother has caused a lack of emotions and communication between the father and daughter. Both feel distant as a family, but Chieko's isolation continues into her social life. Men don't want to have anything to do with Chieko because she is deaf. This yearning of acceptance causes Chieko to communicate in the only way she knows possible, her body. The show stopper occurs in a scene where Chieko stands fully nude in front of a detective. Chieko has been stripped of her dignity appearing completely desperate and vulnerable. Simply put, Rinko Kikuchi's character Chieko is the most fascinating and best part of the film.
As you can see, this is not a film merely about characters not understanding each other via language barriers. There is much more substance going on. Many of the film's lack of communication takes place within people who speak the same language but are not listening to each other and therefore not communicating.
The film may feel slow to some and yet engaging to others. The whole "every character is connected" idea seems overplayed and not as shocking as it once was. This is largely due to previous films, such as Crash, exercising this same idea in the past (I still think P.T. Anderson's Magnolia is the best film that shows an interweaving complex story of characters that all connect.)
But still, Inarritu has made a film showing that even though our cultures have led us to have different definitions of happiness with one another, we are all still connected as human beings because of the similarities of tragedy, death, and isolation we all feel. To the core, we are all the same.