Babel Movie Review Sample
This drama film was released in 2006, focusing on the intercultural aspects between three different settings. In essence, the story film is a combination of events that take place in Japan, Morocco and Mexico/U.S.A (Bordwell et al. 2011). The main theme of the film is how violence and death are unifying factors in all regions and cultures. The film starts in a scene in Morocco, where a herder (Abdullah) buys a rifle and ammunitions to protect his goats from the notorious jackals. He gives the rifle to his two sons, who subsequently engage in a number of criminal activities. Their pursuit to test the rifle ended up in injuring a tourist (Susan Jones) after the bullet hit the tourist bus. After the relationship between America (Susan’s home government) get sore with the government of Morocco, the police pursue the owner of the rifle and manage to apprehend Abdullah and his sons.
In Japan, meanwhile, police are in hot pursuit of the person who could have sold the rifle to Abdullah. Chieko Wataya (the deaf girl) seeks recognition and love, hence invites Mamiya (police to her house). Chieko’s father was responsible for giving Abdullah the rifle. In this setting, it is also apparent of the frustrations that Chieko was going through. Not only was she frustrated after the passing on of her mother, she had failed to attract any man, hence her move to seduce Mamiya.
The film’s third setting is in America/Mexico. While Susan and Richard were away on the trip to Morocco, they left their children under the care of Amelia, a Mexican nanny. With the wedding of his son on the horizon, Amelia was determined to attend. When Amelia fails to find somebody to take care of the children, he travels with them to Mexico to attend the wedding, which backfires. The children find it difficult to cope with the Mexican street culture and Amelia decides to drive them back. However, she is confronted by the police, and eventually she separates with the children in the desert in her attempt to find food and water for the three of them. The film ends with a phone conversation between Amelia and Richard, through which we get to learn that Amelia is allowed to attend the wedding. Although the events depicted portray a simple progression of events, cultural differences are deeply grounded to shape the events that take place.
As already argued above, the central themes of the film are communication and culture. Throughout the film, the relationships and interconnections between these two themes are closely knitted. Through the three different continents in the film, the director manages to give out the differences that exist in four cultures (Mexican, North America, Islamic and Japanese). Language and communication is a key aspect of culture. In the film, the inability to communicate is the main reason for most of the tragedies that take place. Such tragedies commence with wrong decisions which, added to cultural differences and interference in communication, leads to untold suffering.
In Morocco, the difference in culture from the United States means Richard and Susan do not enjoy their vacation. This is despite the fact that this holiday was intended to bring them together. As a matter of fact, they find it difficult to converse with the natives. When Susan is hurt by the rifle, the couple looks confused as they do not understand where to receive help. A key difference in culture is also witnessed as regards to the treatment Susan received. In America, there are hospitals. In Morocco, however, the couple had to be taken to the village veterinary to diagnose the problem. This points out to a cultural difference between the two categories of people. The Moroccan government does not seem keen to accord assistance or treat the matter as being agent, hence the tension between the American and Moroccan governments. Whereas I Morocco it is illegal to own a rifle, the same cannot be said about America.
In the film, there are several encounters that explain the cultural challenges that the actors went through. Whereas in some encounters the actors overcame these cultural differences, they failed to overcome them in other situations. The first social encounter is as regards to the exposure of the two children (Mike and Debbie) to the Mexican culture. The street scenes in Mexico are very different from those in America. From the expression on the faces of the children, it is clear they are uncomfortable in the place. The fact that the wedding was to extend to the night made it difficult for the children to cope, forcing Amelia to drive them back to America.
The interaction between Yasujiro (Japanese) and Abdullah also gives an insight to the differences and how various issues in the two countries were perceived. According to how he explained to the policemen, Yasujiro consented to have given the rifle to Abdullah when he was on a tour to Morocco. With this, it is prudent to assume that the transfer of possession was legal. However, with the events that unfold, it becomes clear that it was illegal to own a gun in Morocco. The fact that Abdullah’s children used it to cause harm further illustrates how naïve Moroccans were.
The third social encounter I the film is as regards to the interaction between the veterinary in Morocco and the couple (Richard and Susan). After the Richard the driver to direct the vehicle to the nearest hospital, the driver drove to the village. The doctor being from Morocco, the language barrier between the two is evident. However, both of them are able to understand that Susan needs to be taken care of ad the doctor works on her quickly. To a large extent, this encounter is shaped by the universality of violence and death. Despite the language barrier between the two parties, the doctor was able to understand what the couple needed, hence assisting them to overcome the communication challenges.
In conclusion, the theme of cultural differences is well covered in the film, portraying how people from the different geographical regions in the film differ in their actions, opinions and language. Whereas this theme plays a major role in the development of the film, a general question is as to what the situations could have transpired to had these communication challenges been avoided. It is important to note that Amelia’s move to drive from the wedding to America while drunk was because he wanted to take the kids home and prevent them from suffering the cultural shock in Mexico. Had the twins been able to cope with the Mexican culture, then this might not have happened. In a similar manner, most of the above interactions would have been solved in a more adequate manner had the cultural differences not existed.
Bordwell, D., & Thompson, K. (2011). Minding movies: Observations on the art, craft, and business of filmmaking. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.