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Movie of the Day – Babel

Posted on the 24 January 2012 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

It is a little daunting sometimes to think that in some way, every person in the world is connected to one another.  Through the use of online social networks, cell phone expansion, or even blogging (case in point) our world is seemingly becoming a tighter net of communication.  I can post this blog article and the next thing I know, someone thousands of miles away might read this and connect with it in some way.  At least I want to believe that I have that sort of effect or even having international fans.  So I will leave my pipe dreams out of the post and get to the point of the opening.

Babel, a 2006 film that was able to tell a story that connected the entire world (at least the world in which the film takes place).  It’s about how everyone’s action, big or small, will be felt by everyone around them, even those that are on an entirely different continent.  The actions that happen to us can be perceived as random or accidental, but director Alejandro González Iñárritu aims to show us that even with distance and language separating us from one another, our actions and those of others all have a way of connecting to one another.

Movie of the Day – Babel

Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) are a couple from the United States who have traveled to Morocco in Northern Africa on a vacation after the death of one of their children has sent Susan into a deep depression. Richard and Susan’s other two children have been left in the care of Amelia (Adriana Barraza), their housekeeper. Amelia is originally from Mexico, and her oldest son is getting married in Tijuana. Unable to find someone who can watch the kids, or to obtain permission to take the day off, Amelia takes the children with her as she travels across the border for the celebration. Around the same time, in Morocco a poor farmer buys a hunting rifle, and he gives it to his sons to scare off the predatory animals that have been thinning out their goat herd. The boys decide to test the weapon’s range by shooting at a bus far away; the shot hits Susan in the shoulder, and soon she’s bleeding severely, while police are convinced the attack is the work of terrorists. In Japan, Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) is a teenage deaf-mute whose mother recently committed suicide. This despairing, confused girl experiences such rage and frustration that she causes her volleyball team to lose a match, and later yanks her underwear off and begins exposing herself to boys in a crowded restaurant. Chieko’s father then struggles to reach past the emotional distance which separates him and his daughter.  ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Following in the same narrative structure as his two previous films, Amores Perros and 21 Grams, González Iñárritu finishes off his trilogy of life and death with Babel.  21 Grams is a film that I chose for Movie of the Day a long time ago, and I have a particular fondness for a film that makes us contemplate the actions that we take each and every day and brings up the notion that nothing is ever random, it’s some cosmic action that binds us to one another.  While I could go on and on about 21 Grams and deeper meaning of “random” events and the connective fabric of time that binds us all, Babel attempts to connect the world the actions of just a few.

The story of Babel spans across four different stories, with each dealing with a particular action that drives the story to the eventual connected nature that González Iñárritu aims for.  Two stories take place in Morocco, one following the travels of two Americans, one of which gets shot and is now in a fight to live through the ordeal and overcome the marital issues they have.  Their story is tied to the bullet that injures them, a bullet that is shot from the gun of some kids who were out shooting the new gun their farmer father got in a deal.  That bullet then sends us to two different locations, one in America dealing with the two Americans children and the house maid and one to Japan to follow the lives of a father and daughter, both of whom are disconnected from one another.  The bullet is the catalyst that brings all the stories together, each side being effected by the actions of one another and no particular blame being placed on any ones shoulders.  Instead, all the people involved have a hand in the story, as their lives and actions are connected in way that makes it seem almost too unbelievable.

Movie of the Day – Babel

I could go into the intricate stories and analyze the theme of each, but I rather have you watch this film and view it for the splendor and beauty that it has.  It’s a global film that makes our lives seem small and connected.  The idea of random occurrences being, well…random, is an idea that needs to be pushed out your mind.  Sure, there is a bit of chance that goes into the predicament  that everyone seems to be in, but you just don’t know what sort of consequences our actions have on those around us.  It’s daunting to think one seemingly innocent act could carry so much weight to people we have no immediate connection with.

Babel closes out the trilogy that González Iñárritu set out to make with the first film, Amores Perros.  The truncated, non-linear story lines provided a nice, fragmented film that doesn’t complicate things.  Everyone’s lives are intertwined and complicated, so the stories have to overlap somewhere.  21 Grams  continued that story structure and followed the lives of several individuals, all from different walks of life but still close to one another by distance.  Now Babel expands the scope of the story and shows that one action can effect those around the world.  It’s a daunting task to comprehend, but González Iñárritu brings a heartfelt touch and human interest story to the proceedings.  An all-star, global cast is brought in for compelling drama and emotional connections.  In the end, it might humble you a bit more watching a film that brings to light just how connected we are to one another.

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