Thursday, May 03, 2007


Non Spoiler warning, if you’re looking for a review that tells you what the heck is going on, then you’re not getting it, this is just my reaction to the movie with some observations.

Babel is following the now known mould of movies like Crash, Magnolia and Three Seasons, many characters interconnected and their story slowly unraveling. ‘Slowly’ is a keyword when it comes to Babel. It is a very good story, that’s been told well with all the tools that cinema has to offer, but perhaps its length was an issue. With movies like Crash, Magnolia and Babel, there’s always the dilemma of keeping things short or making them long. When they’re short, you feel you haven’t spent enough time with the characters and that all aspects haven’t been covered, like Crash. When it’s long, it tends to give you more of the characters but it drags, like Magnolia. Babel, was more like Magnolia.

There’s always the problem of keeping the user as interested in the different characters who are all taking major roles, and the switch of story and scene sometimes turns off the hypnosis. In Babel however, I can assert that the scenes were all well made and interesting, though not necessarily pleasing to all tastes.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu did a great job with 21 grams by cutting it up to pieces that took a bit of time to put together, 21 grams while being a great story, if ordered would be a long dragging tale that would have been harder to follow, if that’s possible. He made the mistake of putting things more together in Babel. The movie still happens in different timelines, but it’s more comprehensible and slightly more predictive since the timeline is not that extended.

That’s not to say that Babel is not a good movie, it tells a particular story very well. The scenes seem to have been made patiently and a lot of work has gone into making every shot special. The music is non invasive and brings across the right feelings for the scenes and the moods. There are so many cultures brought to the screen and they come across as genuine. The stories are reflective of the cultures they represent, the despair and triumph for Americans, sorrow and depression for the Japs, oppression and death for the Arabs and fleeing and undermining for the Mexicans.

The problem isn’t that the story isn’t told well, but that the story was overtold. Despite great scenes, it seems as if the director wanted us to wait for his story to unfold and instead of adding more events, he stuffed it with artistic scenes that shifted the focus from the main areas of concern. Independently the scenes are great, but they hinder an already slowly moving rhythm.

It seems that there is a trend of telling more than one story of one person. In books about writing books it’s always advised against writing with a God view. But it seems that these days the story of one person isn’t enough, people are more concerned with the big picture. Books and movies alike are turning towards telling more stories about more people, such as Alaa El Aswany who keeps taking us from character to character and movies such as these. I’m not sure if people are now concerning themselves with the ‘greater’ good where greater refers to a greater number of people, or if their intellect has absorbed all kinds of singular stories that they’re looking for more brain food through a multitude of stories rather than one.

Babel is well made and has some very compelling scenes. At the very start it looks like a foreign movie (as opposed to American) because of the focus is on characters that are stereotyped usually and are of no concern to Americans, and it does well to combine that authenticity with the more modern scenes in Japan.

If you’ve seen the movie, you don’t need to read this and if you haven’t, you probably haven’t understood what I’m going on about, I should have included this in the warning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i'll read that post after i see the movie :)