the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Babel - with Brad Pitt

A very artistic movie. It's very similar to "Crash" in that it's a movie with many seemingly random characters who come together at the end. Unlike "Crash" these characters are almost all from different countries. It covers many current problems of the new "global" age. However, the over all theme seems to be communication or lack there of.

SPOILER: A rich Japanese business man regularly travels for big game hunting. His wife recently committed suicide using a gun. Both the father and his deaf teenage daughter are dealing with the lose in different ways.

Fueled by her anger and handicap, the daughter goes off looking for sexual experience in the Tokyo metropolis.

The father once gave his gun as a present to one of his hunting guides in Morocco. The guide sells it to a goat herder who in turn gives it to his pre-teenage sons who watch the goats. The boys play with the gun, and in an effort to test the gun's range they target a passing tour bus. Brad Pitt and his wife are on the tour bus.

The bullet hits Pitt's wife in a major vein in her upper shoulder / neck. The bus is hours from anywhere and ends up going to a rural village for help. Everyone on the bus is screaming "terror attack". This conclusion eventually spreads through the media and reaches the international audience practically before they arrive in the village.

Pitt calls home telling his Mexican maid to watch the kids for an extra few days and call the embassy in Morocco for him. The maid is very helpful, however her son's wedding in Mexico is coming up and of course she must attend. So her nephew picks her up and drives her and the kids to Mexico. The maid has really raised the children and they understand a little Spanish. But still it's a real shocker of a cultural experience for the kids. After the wedding the nephew is slightly intoxicated and runs through a border patrol inspection. He drops the maid and kids off in the dessert before driving off again in a drunk rush. The maid eventually gets help from a passing border patrol truck although she has to leave the kids under a shade tree to find it. She is deported to Mexico (for negligence?) although she has lived in the USA 16 years and is effectively the children's mother.

...I watched this movie with Japanese subtitles, so that might be a little wrong, but that's about it. (English subtitles weren't available).

END Spoiler

The huge contrasts in the movie were absolutely stunning (and shocking at times). The camera work, transitions and character development was done well.

My take: Since I'm living in Japan, here's my take on it. Since World War II and the "Allied" Occupation of Japan, It's nearly impossible to get guns in Japan. And they're seen as scary things related mostly to crime - and that's true. But the one gun a VERY rare Japanese man happens to own some how gets in the wrong hands and causes all kinds of tragedies.

Also, why is Japan recently seen as such a sexually permisqueous nation in movies? It's true, sexual relations are seen in a slightly different light than the Western view (like the Western view is a good example). But the sort of "Japanese sex life" portrayed here and in other movies like "Lost in Translation" and "Kill Bill" isn't common at all, even in Tokyo. It's like portraying all Americans as if they were stereotypical Las Vegas gamblers.

While this movie makes scattered comments on terrorism, racism, the "global" economy, and immigration, of course it doesn't draw any conclusions.


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