Tuesday, November 07, 2006

According to the narrative in Genesis Chapter 11 of the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a tower built by a united humanity to reach the heavens. Because the hearts of men were said to be inherently evil and disobedient, they were striving to make a name for themselves instead of worshipping the God who created them. Because of this open defiance, God stopped their efforts by confusing languages so that the builders could not understand one another. As a result, they could no longer communicate and the work was halted. The builders were then scattered to different parts of Earth. This story is used to explain the existence of many different languages and races. The tower of Babel never got close to being finished.

So says Wikipedia.

And so it is. Babel is a film about borders and miscommunications. It's about the physical language that a deaf Japanese girl is trying to express and find; it's about the challenges that immigrants around the world face when they try to communicate the freedom and a better life that they yearn for; it's about how communication breaks down when values crumble in a family; it's about the more intimate definition of miscommunication between a couple rather than the apparent language and cultural barriers that surrounds them.

Interestingly enough, Babel is about communication and languages - both subjects that are quite significant in my life at the moment. But the film was nothing at all that I could have imagined. I was however expecting a less-than-usual film about cross cultures/boundaries; how stories from around the world are somewhat connected in the most unusual but simple way. Inevitably reminding me of a very similar film called "The Red Violin" which tells a story spanning not just across borders but time as well and no points for guessing what the connecting vessel was. As in the case of Babel, the vessel of connection was a simple rifle (ok, so it was an assault AK-47).

The film was filled with endless messages for one to interpret; quite ironic that film is aptly names Babel.

Out of the 4 stories that were told, the one that made the strongest impression on me must be the Japanese narrative. It was just painful to watch a deaf girl desperately trying to find love and affection from nearly anyone and everyone in the intense megalopolis setting of Tokyo. Even with the sexual extremities that I've heard about Tokyo's youth, what was portrayed in the film was more than comprehendible. Wonder what Tokyo has to say about that.

Meanwhile, the generousity and selflessness that was exemplified in the Morrocan plot when the American tourist was shot was definitely a strong message from the director. How the muslim village bore no hostility or doubt towards the American tourists and were more than ready to give whatever help they can and more.

What amazes me more is the cast itself. Not really referring to the star-studded ones but more how they actually found such young actors who can portray their roles so honestly and real. The Morrocan siblings seemed almost as if they were literally picked out of their daily tasks and asked to do the same thing in front of cameras. Maybe they're veterans, I don't know.

On a must-see scale of 1 to 5, Babel is definitely a film-to-watch-so-that-you-can-say-you-have-watched-it. No, not really. If you have the time and cash, then it's a must watch. Otherwise, try finding the time and save up some money to watch it.

But Babel still is on any other given day, yet another result of a pre-concocted-winning formula. Not to mention, it is also atleast (can't say about Amores Perros since I haven't watch it) the 2nd attempt by the same director on such a formula. Personally, that's a bit too M. Night Shyamalan = repetitive ingenuity = unoriginal. I love M. Night Shyamalan's works but one too many is not good.

Then again, it's probably quite a challenge to feed the insatiable appetite for endless ingenuity from the current generation of audience. I know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hmm interesting... it sounds really good but.... not so convincing that i want to rush out and see it now.... i guess i will wait for a DVD (hint hint nudge nudge)