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Babel is a treat to watch

December 29, 2006 15:04 IST

Think Babel and you think of the mythical tower, filled with people talking in tongues, each unintelligible to the others.

The Bible suggests that this was a trick played by god. Ambitious humans were attempting to build a tower, near Babylon, that could reach Heaven; by creating a whole slew of languages, God ensured they wouldn't be in sync with their plans, and would find themselves lost in the morass of their own linguistic confusion.

The centuries-old tale inspires director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, in his latest offering Babel, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchet, to show that inspite of globalization, the internet, and the shrinking of the world into a global village, human beings essentially are yet to learn to communicate with one another.

The storyline revolves around a rifle, that connects four different lives in four countries: Japan, Morocco, the US and Mexico.

Four different people who will never meet each other are linked by a small incident involving a child firing off a rifle; that one act and how it changes the lives of four families drives the plot.

The rifle shot hits an American tourist (Cate Blanchett) who is traveling with her husband Brad Pitt in a last-ditch effort to make her marriage work. The incident becomes global news; contemporary issues like terrorism come into play, and in the reaction to the incident, the director shows how ignorant we are of each other's culture.

Elsewhere, a Mexican nanny crosses the US border to attend her son's wedding, loses her way, and is arrested by the American police. Also key to the plot is a Japanese tourist who first sells the rifle, and his daughter, a sex-starved deaf-mute whose portrayal has to be seen to be believed.

Inarritu brings past, present and future together in a way that leaves you in awe of his storytelling skills, and his grip on narrative. Also worth mentioning is the comparisons between life in the first and third worlds, told in non-judgemental fashion by the director.

The acting by an ensemble cast that includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho and Adriana Barraza helps elevate the film to a higher level.

 Babel is a treat; a must watch, even if it happens to be the New Year weekend.

Rediff Rating:

Syed Firdaus Ashraf