Wednesday, January 03, 2007


RUN TIME: 142 min.

And now we have the final entry in director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “death trilogy”. And what a crowning achievement to end it with. As was the case with AMORES PERROS and 21 GRAMS, this film is a monumental achievement.
AMORES PERROS was based in Mexico and 21 GRAMS was based in US. But BABEL is a movie for the world. A remarkable movie that tries to communicate to the audiences’ of the world and does a spectacular job at that, considering the movie is all about communication.
Babel, as is mentioned in the Holy Bible, is the city where a tower was built to reach heaven. But God spoiled the effort of everyone involved by bringing in a certain complexity never before known to man before that-the barrier of language. And each of the people involved couldn’t understand the other because of the incomprehensible languages.
BABEL, as told by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, tells us that it is not the languages that have brought theses barriers between men. It is a very simple thing-the refusal to listen and to understand others. IF you want to be understood, listen. Language isn’t a great barrier to be broken; all we need is to understand ourselves.
As was the case with Inarritu’s previous movies, BABEL deals with a multitude of stories and how the events on one end have a bearing on the other.
First, there’s the story of the Moroccan family. The father purchases a new Winchester rifle and asks his two sons to practice them.
Second there’s the story of the American couple who have left their two children behind in San Diego and are in Morocco to repair their relationship.
Third is the story of the governess of the couple who’s a Mexican but settled in the US for 16 years and is very close with the kids.
Fourth is the story of a mute Japanese teenager and her wealthy Japanese businessman father.
How the stories interconnect is what makes up for the movie.
Some might just say that BABEL is making some political statements but it isn’t the case. BABEL is just what it is, a gem of a movie on human relations in this mess of a world. It is a masterwork on how people interact and how a decision here can change somebody’s life 100,000 miles away, something akin to the Butterfly Effect [(physics) In a chaotic system, the ability of miniscule changes in initial conditions (such as the flap of a butterfly's wings) to have far-reaching, large-scale effects on the development of the system (such as the course of weather a continent away) (Courtesy:].
The direction is classic Inarritu. This is just his third full length feature and he already has shown enough talent to rank among the best in the business today. As everyone is saying, he has enough talent to change conventional movie making just as Martin Scorsese did in the 1970s. The best thing about his movies is that they are so heartfelt. Plus they are so powerful. He has made three movies and all three have changed the way dramas are made. Other dramas pale in comparison to the complexity and the profoundness of human relations weaved by Inarritu. In fact, last year’s Academy Award winner looks like a film made by a first timer against the monumental achievement that is BABEL.
The characterization is what makes this one of the best movies of 2006, if it was not that already. Much of it of course owes to the fantastic talent of Inarritu and his handling of the characters. There are few directors there who can match Inarritu in handling a character. Different viewers might find different characters touching. But the fact of the matter is that each of them is so painfully sketched that none of them might leave you for quite a few days.
I have not seen a director who is as skilled as Inarritu at extracting performances since Martin Scorsese. And BABEL is no different. Few directors can call themselves an actor’s director, but Inarritu is just that. Every actor must feel really special working with him. Be it Cate Blanchett as Susan or Brad Pitt as Richard or Rinko Kikuchi as Chieko or Adriana Barazza as Amelia, each one of them gives masterful performances. If not for anything, this movie is a must see solely for the performances. I was awestruck at the two actors who played the kids, Boubker Ait El Caid and Said Tarchani, both of who are non-professional actors. I can’t help but single out Adriana Barazza and Rinko Kikuchi who are sure to compete against each other in the Best Supporting Actress category at every award ceremony there will be.
And the background score might take a while to get off my mind. And it sure got to do with Inarritu’s being a DJ. The music by Gustavo Santaolalla (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, 21 GRAMS, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, AMORES PERROS) will just break your heart at the end of the movie.
BABEL is what can be termed as a true cinematic achievement. Every aspect of it just deserves one word – masterful. But much more than that it is a movie that truly touches your heart with its in your face real situations and such vivid characters. It is as much about global human relations as it is about parents and childrens and families. Especially, Chieko’s story that has little to do with the plot but is completely character driven. One could say that the movie gets a bit self involved at various points and I could point at least a couple of sequences that could have been edited out. But once you invest yourself into each of the characters, it all is worth it.
As I was exiting the theatre after watching the movie I just happened to overhear a conversation where a lady said –“It is a sad movie. Why do people say that all sad movies are nice?”
I agree with her on the question part but beg to differ on the first declaration she made. BABEL is not a sad movie. BABEL is too magnificent and too complicated to assign it one emotion. BABEL is the unison of all human emotions and much more. It is how we communicate. One of the front runners at the Academy awards for me.

1 comment:

Sadanand said...

I totally agree Babel was a magnificent picture and I am great fan of thing I still don't understand though is that,was it,at all,necessary to include the scene of a naked girl(Kikuchi) with her father...I mean,couldn't it be shown some other way.Was it absolutely necessary on director's part to show this to maintain the profoundness of the message the movie propagates?