It's bullet time at the movies. Martin Scorsese's cops and crooks are clashing are unleashing storms of bullets, and Clint Eastwood's Marines are firing more shots than anyone could hope to count. But in Alejandro González Iñárritu's new film Babel, a single gunshot causes an international crisis. It's a shot heard around the world, and one you won't forget anytime soon.
Who is to blame for that shattering blast? The adolescent shooter? His father, who entrusted him with the rifle? The man who sold them the gun?
In the world according to Iñárritu, we must look past that shot to understand the root cause of the crisis. Like a surgeon exposing tumors, this talented director reveals the fundamental flaw common to everyone involved in calamity. It's a disease that knows no borders. And it runs deeper than any bullet wound.
Babel takes its title from the Genesis tale in which God punishes and scatters an arrogant people by confusing their languages. The film clearly demonstrates that the separation continues. Fault lines run between nations and traditions, but they also splinter to divide communities, families, and marriages. A simple dispute between brothers can tear a rift in history, and a gesture of grace between strangers can make a difference too.
To demonstrate this division, Iñárritu and his screenwriter, Guillermo Arriago, weave plots through Babel's 142 minutes, continuing a trend of complicated big-screen tapestries. Many will compare it to Crash, Magnolia, Syriania, and Traffic. But it's also worthwhile to compare it to Iñárritu's first two films, which were similarly convoluted—the critically acclaimed Amores Perros and his first American effort, 21 ...1
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