Babel DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has a special way of showing just how much we effect and are effected by others.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has a special way of showing just how much we effect and are effected by others.
THE BAD
I sort of wonder of how essential the Japanese segment of this movie really was.
THE FEATURE
Babel is the kind of movie that sucks you into it's story regardless of your political stance. It chooses not to judge it's characters so much as it presents their plights. Everything begins in Morocco when Susan (Cate Blanchett) is shot by a rifle that two boys are playing with. This immediately sends her husband Richard (Brad Pitt) into a frenzy trying to save her life. The problem is that they are on a tour bus, they don't speak the language very well, and they are very far from where they can get any medical help.

Meanwhile, their nanny Amelia (Adriana Barraza) is supposed to be going down to Mexico to celebrate her son's wedding. Problems arise when the people who are supposed to take care of her bosses children can't. Left with no other options, she takes them to Mexico in her nephew Santiago's (Gael Garcia Bernal) car. At the wedding he gets drunk and on the way home, after being spooked by some Border Patrol agents, he ditches Amelia and the children in the desert.

During the course of these stories we are also shown the tale of Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi), a deaf woman who seems to be very disassociated from her father. Over the course of the film, we find out that she has only recently experienced a great tragedy in her life, and we also find out how her tale connects with the others in this film.

All in all, Babel is the kind of movie that you either accept or you don't. It makes many statements, both social and political, and it seems like the biggest one is how we let barriers come up around us that often strangle our ability to communicate.
THE EXTRAS
No Extras came with this DVD.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen. I thought that on my tiny TV Babel looked better in my bedroom than it did in the theater. That isn't 100% fair because the I saw this movie in a second run theater that really didn't give the lush scenery of this film it's due. I think this movie really plays well on DVD simply because the story is so thickly layered. It would have been really nice to have seen how this movie played if we were presented all the stories individually. However, each story is so dependent on the other in terms of the emotional core of this film, I am willing to bet that all the stories would lose something if they weren't intertwined. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much the point of what the director is trying to make with this film.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital. The audio on this release was good but I didn't pay attention to it that much. I would say that about 1/3 of this movie is in English, so I spent a lot of the film reading subtitles as opposed to paying attention to the sound. What was very strong was the soundtrack employed. No matter where we were placed as viewers, whether it was Japan or Mexico, I felt like I was in those places. The music, the ambiance and the people who inhabited this world all made me forget that I was watching a movie. The importance if this cannot be forgotten simply because that realism is integral to this story.
THE PACKAGE
The faces of all the main cast members are presented on this front cover. When you look at this cover, you really get a sense of the multicultural nature of this film. Also, in a weird way the characters all seem to look similar, as if they are have shared the same experience. The back cover has some more critic's quotes, it gives us more images from the film, a description of what Babel is about, a cast list and system specs. This cover is as simplistic as the people who inhabit this film, it's only when we go deeper that we find out just how complicated everyone's life is.
THE FINAL WORD
Having been a fan of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's other films, I sort of wondered if Babel was going to be the one where he failed. I mean, how many films about intertwined lives can we see before we start to wonder if these are the only kinds of stories that this director is able to tell? Well, I was pleasantly surprised by how much this movie engaged me. I cared about all of these characters and I think that Inarritu achieved his goal. After going on this 142 minute journey with all of these characters, I really felt for all of them based on how their situations turned out.

In fact, the scene that really made me realize just how powerful a movie Babel is was the one between Amelia and the border patrol agent. It is quite apparent that she loves the kids she was looking after, and that she really made a mistake taking them with her to Mexico. In a perfect world, Richard and Susan would have understood Amelia's plight and she never would have faced the penalty that was ultimately levied on her. What Babel shows is just how imperfect the world is, and how our inability to articulate ourselves is what often has the most dire consequences.

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