Babel is my film of the year, and probably the best film I've seen in quite a few years. The film looks at relationships, from husband/wife, parent/children, brother/sister and plays around the themes of love in adversity. The characters are all interlinked in a very random way, it's a little like 10 degrees of separation. The film is set in Morocco, Mexico, Japan and the US, and the director makes full use of the different backdrops to bring the picture alive. The characters are deep and insightful, each has a problem to face up to and the subtle, naturalistic way their issues play <more>
out make for truly emotional cinema. This is not a film about heroes, it's a film about trying to make the right choices when your back is to the wall, and the doubts that go with this. Great movie, especially if you're a parent as your protective instincts will kick in at least once during this movie!
There is nothing coincidental about the human connection but if you're interested in finding a reason for it, for them - you would have to dig into your spirit. It was meant to be and it was meant to be in the way that it unfolds, no matter how absurd, how contradictory, how seemingly coincidental. I don't know anything about Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, other than he is one of the most extraordinary filmmakers to emerge in the 00's, but I suspect he has the soul of a Christian prophet, the mysticism behind the realism of his stories reek of God and of New Testament. Amores <more>
Perros, 21 Grams the weight of the soul, remember? now Babel the famous, or infamous biblical tower. Gonzalesz Inarritu has put together an immediate universe populated by incomprehension and humanity shaken and wrapped in a bloody cloth of the purest linen. His images will remain with me forever in particular Adriana Barraza's moment with the American kids in the desert. A total triumph.
I admire Gonzalez Inarritu's balls and his talent of course. He opens himself up for a barrage of criticism and ridicule but at the end his genius wins. I saw the film months ago and I still think about it. I haven't seen it again because the recollection is so powerful and I don't want to mess it up by seeing it again intentionally. The Mexican woman with the white kids in the desert has become part of my nightmares. What an enormous thing for a movie to accomplish. I'm giving it a 10 and not because I "like" the film so much but because I saw myself coming to the <more>
conclusion that the film is a masterpiece all on my own. It inspires respect. Christ! I can't believe I'm saying that but I am and I'm meaning every word. In a way it reminds me of Bunuel's "Viridiana" a film that I hated so much it has become one of the most important films of my life. Go figure. To be disturbed. I mean deeply disturbed is a strange experience and I suspect that it has to do with being confronted by the truth.
Alejandro González Iñárritu's direction is brilliantly layered and intricately woven. He deftly uses different film stock, imagery, sound, and stories to weave a single tale out of four disparate ones, a talent he's shown in other films.The story by screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga and Iñárritu has one incident ricochet around the globe, and peeling back the layers of culture to show the frustrating inability to communicate, and the poignancy and universality of familial love.Each story is complete, but a series of snapshots that leave as many questions as answers. As the stories <more>
unfold, the backstories and the futures of the characters are chock full of possibility and pain. As one commenter during the Q&A said, it was frustratingly beautiful. Each storyline deals with family and conflict from the inability to communicate or to understand.All the performances are incredible, and very touching. Brad Pitt did an excellent job, and the always outstanding Cate Blanchett, a powerhouse actor if there ever was one, has the least screen time of any of the leads. Few can do so much with so little. But the really outstanding performance is Rinko Kikuchi as a deaf-mute Tokyo teen.To say any more would possibly lesson the experience, so let me just say this: it may seem confusing at times, but by the end, it will seem like poetry.
Thoughtful, edgy, engaging and ambiguous (by mstomaso)
Babel is one of the most intelligent and artfully made films of 2006. The film has two central themes - culture and communication. It also exposes the connections between these themes in the arenas of politics, religion and geography sensitively and intelligently. The tag-line, though intentionally obtuse, sums the film up well - "If you want to be understood... Listen" - The parable is designed to speak to people all over the world who seem to believe that the meaning and importance of political boundaries somehow supersedes the value of humanity. It has especially important <more>
messages for Americans, however. And its release was well-timed to coincide with an election 2006 which may, in the long term, provide some hope for American foreign policy.The film brilliantly weaves four deeply interconnected stories engaging five cultures on three continents. The cultures are North American, Mexican, Moroccan, Japanese and Japanese/deaf. At the heart of each tragedy is an inability to communicate. The tragedies begin with bad decisions that spin each plot somewhat out of control once cultural interference and miscommunication kick in.Brad Pitt and Kate Blanchett play a troubled American couple having very little fun on a vacation in the Middle East. Susan Blanchett is shot by a young boy practicing with a gun The two Middle Eastern boys who play the brothers in this film give Oscar-worthy performances, unfortunately I can't get their names out of IMDb easily . Three crises are simultaneously set off, as the Americans' nanny must find a way to attend her son's wedding in Mexico while Susan's medical crisis unfolds, and the poor Islamic family responsible for the gun begin to undergo a devastating crisis of their own. Of course the United States executive branch not the government - sorry, we are still a democratically organized republic regardless of who sits in the oval office interprets the crisis as an act of terrorism and a political crisis threatens to doom Susan to bleeding to death in a small remote town in the desert. Finally, in a seemingly disconnected story, Chieko Rinko Kikuchi , a young, deaf, Japanese volleyball player is coming of age. Her mother has committed suicide and she seems bound to work out her problems with her father by devoting herself to a lascivious lifestyle.The performances are, all around, excellent. The directing is exquisite - perfectly paced and visualized. This is a great film which, despite its commercial pedigree and big budget, achieves a rare level of artistry - proving that blockbusters do not have to be sold short. Babel will make you think, and think well. Make sure you bring your attention span and brain, however.Very highly recommended.
A Serious, Thought-Provoking, Uncompromised Film... from Hollywood? (by yndprod-2)
BABEL is better than I'd expected it could be. I've heard the beginnings of the backlash "it's another CRASH" coming on the heels of the Cannes Film Festival triumph... and I kind of bought it. I respected AMORES PERROS and 21 GRAMS but neither really connected with me... So I was totally unprepared to be as impressed by this film as I was.I wasn't a fan of CRASH -- I thought it was an overly-simplified take on a complex issue and that the characters were drawn in cartoony, larger-than-life strokes. BABEL, for me, is the complete opposite: as dense and complicated <more>
as the current state of world relations between countries, between strangers, between family members and friends , filled with complex characters who are never reduced to stereotype. The performances are uniformly excellent, from the non-actors to the unknowns here in America, anyway to Brad Pitt, Gael Garcia Bernal and Cate Blanchett all of whom give completely unflashy, ensemble performances . And the technical film-making is astounding -- not just the direction, but on every front the editing and the amazing score deserve particular attention .The most remarkable thing for me is the way director Inarritu and screenwriter Arriaga capture the different rhythms of life in Morocco, America, Tokyo and Mexico. Rather than using some kind of clear-cut stylistic device like the color-coding in TRAFFIC , they establish the distinct flow and feel of each country early on and maintain it throughout the film. It's that kind of depth that makes BABEL such a unique mainstream film.My best advice is to go into this film with as few preconceptions as possible and enjoy an experience that's become increasingly rare since the heyday of the 1970s: an intelligent Hollywood film with something important on its mind.
Four stories. Three countries. One powerful film. (by Flagrant-Baronessa)
If you like me, and so many others found 'Crash' 2005 offensively finger-wagging and dumb its inherent message was: "Racism is bad." , Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel will make it up to you with refreshing intelligence, respect for cultures and crisp acting. The plot outline is difficult to do justice in one sentence but much like Crash it explores culture clashes in life by navigating multiple interweaving story lines.One of these is the story of the married couple Richard and Susan Jones, played by Pitt and Blanchett, who travel to Morocco 'to get <more>
away'. Theirs is a remarkably complex and bruised marriage at first but once the plot gradually unfolds the root of their problems becomes apparent. What is most remarkable about their storyline is that Brad Pitt actually emotes as an actor although is he is grossly facilitated by heartfelt circumstances and that Cate Blanchett regrettably never gets the chance to shine in her performance.Cut to two young Arabic boys in the barren craggy hills of the outback of Morocco. They are brothers whom have just been given a rifle by their father to protect their goats and now they are having fun in learning how to fire the weapon. There is refreshing gritty honesty in the portrayal of this storyline from the dirt and heat on their clothes to the realistic dialogue and many heartrending moments due to the aforementioned. But be warned, this is no glossy or romantic depiction of North Africa...Another storyline takes place in colourful Tokyo in Japan, detailing the teenage life of a deaf girl called Chieko. Hers is arguably the most compelling story especially in terms of sheer fun to be had. Being a teenage girl is hard enough and Chieko finds that her disability distances her from other people the boys she is interested in looks at her like she is a monster and frustrated and desperate to be loved, she indulges in teenage clichés like partying and drinking in the modern mess that is Tokyo. Here I found the single most vivid disco sequence completely sucking me in and not letting go until the fast-paced euphoria of Chieko finally subsided. There is absolute gold to be found in this Tokyo story.Finally, the last storyline takes place in Mexico and the main character is a woman called Amelia Adriana Barraza , who also happens to be Richard and Susan's nanny. When her son is getting married in Mexico and she cannot get a day off, she takes the kids with her across the border. Big mistake. I'm sure many will be able to identify with the sprawling surge of Mexican culture at the wedding and indeed the music and pace made this storyline both beautiful and enjoyable to follow. It is evident that director Alejandro González Iñárritu feels most at home in this setting and as a result, the story shines and its characters emote.Although there is a lot to keep track of in 'Babel' owing to its many story lines, there is such a fluent and seamless intercutting of these segments that it is impossible not to be entranced in the entirety of the film. There is a wealth of juxtapositions of culture to be found and much fun and visual stimulation to be had because of it. From the dramatic barren landscapes of Morocco to the fast-paced teen world of Tokyo, Babel treats contrast with remarkable sensitivity and skill of the subject matter. In other words, it gives a nonsentimental yet compassionate insight into the lives of different people whose stories orbit around the kaleidoscope that is 'Babel', sewn together by unsparing and uninhibited performances. Better yet, you get so caught up in each story that when it cuts to make room for the next you feel almost a little offended and that is good film-making. Babel, given its content, is everything Crash was not. Finally, it offers a satisfying and humble conclusion to an otherwise epic film. Although I cannot help but remark, Iñárritu, come on you could have made a good movie in less than 2½ hours... *hmph*8 out of 10
The film opens in the Moroccan desert: an elderly tribesman trades a high-powered rifle to a goat herder for 500 diram & a goat. He hands the rifle to his two young sons and tells them to kill jackals with it, to protect the herd. As practice, the start shooting at rocks, a car passing on the hill below, and finally a bus. That's the only thing they manage to hit, putting a bullet through the shoulder of a tourist. In the middle of nowhere, there's no medical help, and no one wants to wait with the injured person except her husband. That's the setup of this complex, <more>
challenging film. It splits into four related stories, one in Japan, two in Morocco, and the last in California, where a housekeeper has to get to her son's wedding in Mexico, but has no one to watch the two children in her care. She decides to take them along, and of course things go sour. A good cast, great acting, fine cinematography, and expert direction make this film well worth watching. It's not for everyone, but for people who are ready to see deliberately paced low-key thriller, this is one good film. The split story line is reminiscent of "Syriana," but in no way copies it.
Spellbinding, but marred by story problems (by DonFishies)
While I am not exactly sure why I did not bother seeing Babel when it first came to theatres, I do know that I kicked myself after it started picking up awards and nominations with some of the bigger critical societies. It looked good, but it also looked off. After the Oscar nominations were announced, I knew I had to make a point of finally seeing the film before the big night. And despite my excitement over finally seeing the movie, I am still a bit mixed in my feelings about it.Spanning four stories in four very different countries, Babel is connected by a single gun shot. In Morocco, <more>
Yusef Boubker Ait El Caid and Ahmed Said Tarchani have just been given a new rifle to help kill jackals praying on their families goats. In trying to understand the weapons firing capabilities, they innocently shoot at a tour bus. On that bus, American tourist Susan Cate Blanchett is hit by the bullet and injured. Her husband Richard Brad Pitt attempts to get help for her, while in America, their nanny Amelia Adriana Barraza is watching their kids, but wants to go to her son's wedding in Mexico. Finally, in Japan, schoolgirl Chieko Rinko Kikuchi wants attention from men, but unfortunately is a deaf mute.In a word, Babel is spellbinding. It is hard to take your eyes off of the screen at any moment during the film, and as it continues to go on, it only draws you in more and more. The global spanning story with the various languages is just a marvel to witness in action. But despite it being gorgeously photographed and brought to the screen, the film has a few issues that hold it back from being a true masterpiece.For one, the Japanese story just feels totally out of place. Whereas the other three stories are deeply interwoven within each other, allowing every scene to just flow into the next in a totally non-linear sense , this story just kind of sits on the sidelines. Yes, it is connected to the greater story of the gun shot, but only by the loosest of threads. It is an interesting part of the complete story, but really, was there a better way to fill in the gaps between the other three stories? It has the most elaborate backgrounds in the film, the most music and undoubtedly the best performance, but it just feels awkward in the grand scheme of things.Another smaller issue is the time line. At times, it is a bit hard to follow how many days have progressed since the incident, and by the time you finally are told just how long it has been, it becomes a little ridiculous trying to think it all out. The non-linear story does not help much either.The story itself feels a little convoluted in sections. For the most part, I thought it was very well done, and very well brought to life on screen. But in a few instances, I sat in a bit of a daze, wondering whether they needed some of the extra sequences that they had. An early sequence in the Moroccan kid's story involves heavy sexual overtones. But later, they really do not rate anything more than a mention. A lot of the subplots like this just feel kind of tacked on, and never are really concluded as well as they should have been. Yes, I know that they have no real importance, but then why are they included here in the first place? They easily could have trimmed down the movie by a good handful of minutes by trimming some, if not all, of these subplots out. The movie's ultimate message and key story would still be in place, so I really do not understand why this could not have been done.The majority of the performances are all excellent. I was very impressed with El Caid and Tarchani as the Moroccan boys who set everything in motion. Their innocence and genuine fear are miraculously captured, and are so better done than the majority of child actors working today. Barraza also does very well for herself as the guilt-ridden nanny. As her story goes on, the desperation that plagues her is slowly let on, and the character slowly slips into just the right amount of panic. Just seeing how low this character gets is well worth her Oscar nomination. On the other hand, Pitt and Blanchett have both been much stronger in other films. Yes, they do more than an adequate job here especially Pitt in his waning moments on screen , but I would be lying if I said that they have other entries in their bodies of work that far surpass this. Same goes for Gael Garcia Bernal, who like the subplots, just feels tacked on and not really developed as much of anything.Kukuchi is the real star power of this film. Her tragic performance of the deaf Japanese schoolgirl is simply astonishing. She really digs deep into this character, and the audience really gets a grand sense of the pain that these people go through every day. Just watching as she is socially rejected by everyone is just heart wrenching and so intense to watch. These scenes, needed or not, are gritty and bring a whole new sense to the film. I just wish that the filmmakers could have put her character in a much more useful position in the film.On the whole, Babel is flawed, but is a genuine experience to watch. Globalization has never been as key to a film as it is here. Despite its issues and lengthiness, you will be hard-set on taking your eyes off of the action taking place on screen. It is not perfect, but for what it sets out to do, it does more than an admirable job.8.5/10.