Monday, August 27, 2007

When language fails

On Friday we watched Babel, a "strange" little film which happens to be a masterpiece. Or at least one of those films that will be either loved or hated, with no "yeah, but" in between. I happen to love it.

To me it seems like a tale about communication (or lack thereof), diversity and understanding. Babel comes from the Hebrew word Balal, meaning "to confuse" or "to confound". The film is composed by 4 intertwined stories taking place in 4 different parts of the world: the border between the US and Mexico, Morocco and Tokyo. The protagonists of these micro-stories are all linked by a weapon, and for some of them, their lives will be irremediably changed.

4 languages are heard throughout the film. The characters all have their own issues in dealing with the world: an American couple separated after the death of a baby and now holidaying in Morocco, a Moroccan family where one of the kids had just shot a bus by an unfortunate accident, a Japanese girl who is deaf-mute, has recently lost her Mom and strives in interacting with her own Father, that same accidental shooting in Morocco that now risks to become an international crisis, two American kids going to a wedding in Mexico with their Nanny, the Nanny being arrested for crossing the border "illegally" and unable to communicate with the US authorities in equal terms, the same American couple united by tragedy and now striving to understand each other, and so on. Depressing situations, sad outcomes, one misunderstanding after another.

The actors were excellent (especially Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza), conveying the excruciating pain of being misunderstood and not being able to communicate themselves properly. It's sad to see Chieko desperately trying too have sex and attract the guys - who seem to be repelled by her being a deaf-mute. For her, in her own silent world, words do not work - it becomes clear in the night club scene. She has no words for people around her and, when she flashes her "hairy monster", it's like she is trying to make love to that same world that rejects her, trying to make herself comprehended by other means. If words cannot be said and thus, understood, then her actions may.

It's also hard to see Richard (the American guy played by Brad Pitt) trying to shout and be understood in the little Moroccan village in the middle of the desert, while his wife risks to bleed to death. Or when the Moroccan boys escape with their Dad thinking the American woman "has died". Or Amelia being questioned and humiliated by the US authorities. It can be quite uneasy.

Sad and depressing it is, but nonetheless worth seeing. Not for entertainment, not for fun, but as something that must be seen, because it shows how things happen and how people involved in these events may be connected, for good or bad.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Mandou bem! Tb achei esse filme muito bom! Tudo gira em torno do "mal entendido". Ainda estou assistindo os que vc me emprestou, por enquanto meu favorito eh o SS5+!