Saturday, December 02, 2006


Saw Babel last night. So disturbing and grating, but profoundly beautiful. From the same duo that brought us 21 Grams. Very similar themes: strangers brought together by a random violent act (in 21 Grams a car running over a family, in this movie an errant bullet into a tourist bus wounding Cate Blanchett's character).

The Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis is alluded to in the title. In that story human arrogance attempts to build a tower to heaven (not knowing their place in the cosmos), so God confuses their languages. It is a story, common in oral societies, called aetiology--how the leopard got his spots, etc.

But in this movie, I think the reference was to the human arrogance of thinking because of our global communications, technology, that we all understand each other--our Tower. Except no God punishing us; we are punishing each other. The movie is about the deep egotism of humanity and the depths of miscommunication (intentional and unintentional). And into the vacuumn created by misunderstanding, pure power steps in (Immigration, Armies, Media, etc.), violence everywhere.

It grated me and I kept wanting to leave. Grating is the only word I can think of. For all the sophisticated technology, there is deep violence in the hearts of humanity.


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