I Pit "Babel" (with spoilers)

What a piece of dreck. What is the rationale for making this pile of feces? An American couple’s child dies, seemingly of SIDS (never explained) so they fly off to Morocco leaving their primary school-age children with their illegal immigrant nanny whose son is getting married in Mexico. Meanwhile at some point in the past a Japanese man goes hunting in Morocco and is so happy with his trip he gives his rifle to the guide, who later sells it to a countryman/goatherder who allows his two young sons to use the rifle to kill jackals. Instead they fire it at a tour bus filled with people of all nationalities and hit the American woman. Guess what? No doctor, no ambulance, no cell phones (on the entire bus.) The tour guide takes the bus to his home town, the woman is treated by a vet,The people in the town are all non-threatening, the tourists feel threatened anyway, the town phone is used to contact America and the embassy which will not aid the injured woman until Morocco admits the shooting was an act of terrorism. Meanwhile the nanny cannot get anyone to help watch the kids so she takes them to Mexico for the wedding. Is anything going to go right?
This goes on and on and on and on and none of it is told in sequence. Of course we get to watch a 10 year old goat herder simulate masturbation after being criticized by his brother for spying on his naked sister who knows she is being watched. Terrific plot advancement. And don’t forget the japanese businessman whose young daughter is so distraught after her mother’s suicide that she removes her undergarments before going to the local hangout with her friends and flashes all the young boys there, then goes to the dentist and tries to seduce him, (plot twist - he is horrified and throws her out.) Did I mention she was a deaf-mute volleyball player?
Can anyone possibly tell me what the point of this mind-numbing exercise was?

The good news? The author of this festering filth was the same guy who wrote 21Grams, which I did not hate as much and “The Three Burials of (some guy named) Estrada” which I was going to watch and will now save the time and money.

Single highlight - great view of Tokyo (?) at night from the balcony of a highrise apartment (where of course the naked daughter is standing when dad gets home from work.) WTF?


i watched babel with some friends, and due to some weird thing with their tv -something about how their dvd player couldnt play nice with their nintendo- made it so the subtitles were all screwed up. about half the subtitles we could read, but the other half would flash so quickly that they were more like subliminal subtitles - we knew that they said something, but we had no idea what it was they said. that scene at the end when the police detective is talking to the dad? no idea what went on there.

for awhile (we didnt figure out the dvd/nintendo/tv thing until a few days later) we figured that it was the director trying to make some obnoxious point about how difficult it is trying to communicate when you dont speak the language - maybe the characters had no idea what was going on, and so maybe we shouldnt know, either. but that made no sense, because when the two guys were talking to eachother in japanese, they surely could understand what the other guy was saying, so why bother fuxxing with the subtitles there? maybe the director was just a pretentious idiot. who knew? who cared? it sucked.

but even if i had been able to understand everything - i could just see the director and the producer at some sort of meeting, “but we need some sort of oscar-role we can write into this thing. something nominatable. what is a good role that oscar would love…how about a deaf-mute-nymphomaniac schoolgirl? oscar loves deaf mutes, and everybody loves nymphos. no no, it doesnt matter if it feels tacked on at the end, we dont need to work it into the rest of the movie in any believable way, a deaf-mute nympho schoolgirl is an end in and of itself.”

not that the actress playing said deaf-mute-nympho didnt do a good job. but did the character add anything to the movie except a potential oscar nod an such an amazing transformative acting job? no.


Just in case you are interested, apparently the girl thought the police were inquiring into her mother’s suicide (why? who knows?) and she thought the one cop was cute, so after being rebuffed by the dentist and getting stoned on some weird drugs she goes home and has the concierge call the cop. She then tells the cop, oh …wait, first she gets naked, then she tells the cop how her mother jumped off the balcony and she saw it and her dad was asleep at the time. Somehow he manages not to have sex with her and leaves only to meet dad in the lobby. He really only wanted to know if dad gave the rifle to the guide in Morocco, which he says he did and then the cop expresses his sorrow at the death of the man’s wife. Now the man is angry, because his wife shot herself as the police well know, the case is closed and leave him alone. Believe me it does not make one bit more sense when you can read all of the subtitles. OTOH it does give child pornography lovers (I know she is really over 18) a little thrill.

While I concur wholeheartedly with your take on “Babel,” denquixote, please don’t let the pile of festering pig shit obscure your enjoyment of “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” because that movie kicked major ass. It’s a mordantly funny western in the classic vein with fantastic cinematography and old Tommy Lee Jones doing what he does best–even a broken clock is right twice a day (analog) or maybe only once a day (digital) but still, having made “Babel” does not retroactively make the director incapable of having made “Three Burials.”

Just sayin’…

And the rampant stereotyping in “Babel” made me grind my teeth until my jaws ached–every fucking character had a label THIS BIG all over them… Yeah, yeah, we got it already! Not to mention that every fucking character is the victim of nothing more than their own continuing bad judgement and stupidity–and I’m supposed to care? Riiiiighht… :rolleyes:

I should have had you do the pit Aleq, thanks for the tip.

Agreement here. I posted some months ago about the dumbshit foolishness that is rampant in the movie. The Three Burials…, however, is a great film.

My wife and I just watched it this last week. My reaction was the same as the OP’s. My wife actually sort of liked it. I almost divorced her. If I hear her take one more stand in defense of that movie, it’s over, for sure.

I hated The Three Burials as much as I hated Babel, if not moreso because it was just as gimmicky and contrived, with just as much character torture as Babel and 21 Grams, but I expected better from Tommy Lee Jones. Most definitely in the same vein and you’re as likely to dislike it as the other 2, IMO. Don’t waste your rime. I cannot bring myself to see Amores Perros because of my loathing for Arriaga’s other work.

Why does crap like this get nominated for Oscars? Is the underlying motivation “we didn’t get it, so we’d better nominate it, lest we look stupid”?

Or maybe they saw something you didn’t. Maybe they like a different kind of film. This movie wasn’t so much about the plot as the way the people related to other people and to the chaos they live with.

My husband and I loved this film. The acting is tremendous. I can’t imagine the difficulties in making such a film; I lost count of the number of languages spoken. I can understand why it’s called Babel.

The film reminds me of one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my lifetime. Ultimately, country of origin and culture is not our essence. Being human is.

Incidentally, we liked the music so much that we got the double disc soundtrack.

As Ebert has been known to say (I paraphrase): “It’s not what the film is about so much as how the film is about what the film is about.”

When customers ask me about Babel, I usually tell them it’s a movie designed to make rich white people feel complacent about being rich white people. I mean, it’s basically about how a bunch of ethnic people’s bad decisions ruin a rich white couple’s vacation. I almost suspect it’s a satire on some level, because that shit is seriously fucked up.

For added confusion, *The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada *is one of the best movies of the last ten years. Go figure.

Really? I guess since this is your opinion I can’t actually say that you’re wrong, but it boggles the mind that anyone could think this movie was one of the best of the last 10 years. I hated it intensely, far more than I hated Babel, which I found gripping in places but overall quite manipulative with a shitty message, as you’ve stated so aptly. This is one of those weird moments when someone expresses an opinion that violently clashes with my version of reality, and I have to wonder if one of us is nuts. Fortunately, it’s not about anything important, and we’re probably both nuts. :wink:

Stay strong flyboy. You are absolutley right. There is no room for capitulation here.

Well i must say watching that 10 year old pretend to masturbate was extremely impressive. I mean I really thought that was what he was doing.

I too can understand why it is called Babel (babble) but not for the same reason that you do.

“Ultimately country of origin and culture is not our essence. Being human is.” Are you trying to say we are all just one race, the human race. Wow, that is heavy. Hey, try one of these mushrooms.

On the bright side, at least you found each other.

Before you go completely off the deep end, perhaps you could name three or four films that you think are among the best of the last 10 or so years. I’d have a tough time with that, but I haven’t seen “burial” and while my inclination is to avoid it i am just curious where you are coming from.

Oh wow. I wish I’d thought of that.

At my house we just call it “Snooty Crash” - my theory is that people liked the overall “different races/nationalities/people affect and annoy each other and we’re all threads on the same blanket” idea but if it were more boring and the color was washed out and it had Cate Blanchett then more uppity movie-goers could feel better about liking it and call it intellectual.

Well that is why film criticism is for the adults honey. Now go fix Barbie’s hair, it’s getting all frizzy.

Now that is more like it. Thank you ShelliBean.

It’s something I would expect from a freshman creative writing course. “Oooh, I figured out allusion, now let’s see if I can tap into white guilt – dark people can’t problem solve”

As for the “I figured out why it was called Babel” crowd, I was being wooshed, right ?

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I assumed it as a Tower of Babel reference as well. Just from the title, really…it didn’t seem like anything that needed to be figured out.