Babel ...Language is not the only answer for communication.
Hi y'all! I'm in Virginia, USA now attending Work & Travel Program. I've had trouble uploading my blog here, so what you're going to read was written about like... a month ago back in Thailand. Well, please feel free to comment in Thai because I can read Thai. Enjoy!
First of all, I would like to explain about the drastic change you can apparently see when entering this blog. No, you're not in the wrong blog. You know, I've been thinking of writing my blog in English for a while. So, this is my first and I want it to be a kind of experiment. Let's see if it works! If you find it hard to understand due to my wrong choices of using certain words or stuff like that, please let me know or command me to shut up and return to Thai. Hahaha...
I just get back from seeing this movie at Scala. Actually, it's quite inappropriate doing this since I haven't finished my final exam yet. But this can't really be waited as its showing times are getting less and less. So, despite my will to get back home and read books, I can't help watching it bitterly ...seriously, trust me! Well, Babel has been my most anticipated Oscar-nominated movie from my first glance of its spectacular cast: Brad Pitt, Ms. gorgeous Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, and that sad-looking Japanese girl, Rinko Kikuchi. Also, that director whose name is too hard to pronounce directed '21 Grams' which gained some solid buzz in award season a few years ago. Not to mention, Babel is nominated in many categories for this year Academy Awards and formerly won Golden Globe for Best Drama Picture over Oscar's Best Picture like The Departed. How can I resist it!
I'm quite sure that most of you already knew that all that happens in Babel takes place in 3 countries: Morocco, Mexico, and Japan. Seemingly, the main part is in Morocco where 2 tragic events occur. First event is about an American spouse, Richard and Susan Jones (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) who want to spend their time alone traveling in Morocco in order to save their faltering marriage life. As they are on their tourist bus, comes a rifle bullet out of nowhere buried in Susan's neck. The bus then has to hurry to a local guide's hometown as he claims there's a doctor there, but in such an underdeveloped country, it's almost hopeless to expect for a good enough medication for such a severe wound. Time goes by and the help from America's embassy or even an ambulance never shows up. Other tourists start to act like teenage girls, complaining about the very hot weather and feeling insecure in such a wild, remote area. Who on earth is going to think that in an extremely desperate situation like this, the people you turn to are those rural foreigners, while the people who share your nationality and language turn around and leave you behind? Well, American does. At least, this movie tells us so. I really love how the movie criticizes about selfishness of Americans but for me, this part is somewhat mediocre unless there are Pitt and Blanchett in. They both truly dominate the scenes and this makes it less boring to watch. The other event in Morocco is about 2 local kids who are just excited about their new toy. I don't want to tell you much about this part since it spoils the plot. All you need to know is that they then do something stupid, dragging them to such a tragic result. In this part, the plot itself is more intense as well as the performances. Both unknown kids act unexpectedly fine. You know, surprisingly, the last scene of them is the only scene in the entire movie that makes me shed my tears.
However, my favorite section is the Mexico one thanks to the simple but very touching plot. Amelia (Adriana Barraza), a Mexican maid who has to take care of 2 American children wants to go to her son's wedding in her hometown. She has no choice but taking them with her. Crossing the borderline to Mexico isn't a huge deal and they then have a really good time at the ceremony, probably the happiest moment of the movie, I guess. But crossing back to USA is another case. The kids and Amelia is in Santiago (Gael Garcia Bernal), her nephew's car when he tries to escape from the officers' examination by speeding up his car, leaving Amelia and the kids in the middle of nowhere with no choice. What you'll see in this part is a series of unfortunate events. It's even more unfortunate than Lemony Snicket's one. You'll see Amelia, though with her good intent, making mistakes over and over again. And the consequence of her mistakes is really sad and painful. Since I'm not myself a good decision-maker either, I have to say I get into this part most. It makes me smile when they're happy and dancing around, but when it comes to tragedy, I really feel sorry for all that happen. The performance by Adriana Barraza who leads the story in this part is really natural and so convincing that she gives nothing but pure love and compassion to 2 American kids who she has raised like her own children. Watching her walking in a vast desert, I feel like I really want to help her get through this situation. It's a kind of performance that gracefully deserves recognition like the 'Academy Award nominee' title.
Japan section drew my attention most when I saw the movie's trailer. There's no doubt that my highest expectation places on this section. I mean, a deaf Japanese high school girl, what else can be more interesting than this? However, after seeing the whole movie, this part touches me least. For some reasons, I don't feel like related to the plot that much and it seems so distant for me to really get into. It's about, of course, a deaf teenage girl, Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) whose mother killed herself and father doesn't seem to understand her, while others look down upon her when they find out she's deaf. That's the reason why she's so aggressive and sometimes wants to draw people's attention by exposing her 'Hairy Monster'. As I have mentioned, the story in this part is somewhat irrelevant among other countries' stories. Still, I quite love to see this part a lot thanks to nobody but Rinko Kikuchi who is nothing but excellent here. Apart from her several nude scenes, she has me convinced that she's really deaf. Those eyes, either when she feels extremely happy hanging out with friends or mad at some people who treat her like a freak, always show a glimpse of sadness of a fragile girl who needs only someone to realize what's on her mind, and to hold her so dear. Kikuchi possesses many of my favorite scenes in the whole movie such as the one when she breaks down and cries in the police's arms. Without a doubt, she can nail all the scenes like a professional and make this performance such a captivating and Oscar-worthy one.
Overall production is quite impressive. All the scenes are beautifully shot, well edited, and gives a strong feeling to the plot itself. For example, Amelia's scene in the desert showing the vast expanse of sand and dry trees makes it seem hard to get out but easy to get discouraged. Likewise, the scene of Chieko in the night club which is glittered with tons of colored lights and loud dance music, while with her unfunctioned ears, she can't hear anything, as well as the scene which she changes her facial expression in the blinking light, like watching a slideshow, both are pure genius. Original score by Gustavo Santaolalla is also very outstanding. I was once impressed by his score in Brokeback Mountain. In Babel, he has to do the score in a wider range since the stories take place in 3 different countries and he's able to show me how talented he is. All the score fits in really well, especially 'Bibo No Aozora' in the last scene of Chieko's condominium which is so beautiful and says for itself better than thousands of words. The only Academy Award that this movie gets is very deserving.
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Bibo No Aozora
I've experienced such things directly. I've just been to Korea for a culture-exchange program but, fortunately, never faced any problems due to different languages since it seems that language isn't the main factor of miscommunication. Look at this movie. All the tragedies are not from the different languages. Although they speak the same language, they don't seem to get each other. All that matters is what's inside us, something international, something the lord gives us all the same, something we seem to try to understand less and less every single second. That's truly where all the miscommunication comes from.