The movie Babel was released in 2006 and was aired on SBS on Saturday night. Babel stars Brad Pitt and Australia‘s own Cate Blanchett. In this case ‘stars’ is kind of the wrong word, although they play the central characters of the story, they probably have less than a quarter of the running time on screen.
This was a very good movie for SBS, as they are known for showing foreign language films and this film featured not one, but five different languages, four of them extensively. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett play an American couple, Richard and Susan Jones, touring Morocco in a coach/bus when she is shot through the window. The film then tells four separate stories linked to the event. There is of course the story of the couple and their efforts to get her to a hospital and treated. Which is no mean feat, as they are in a very remote desert area and the other passengers are not prepared to wait for an ambulance to arrive and be shot themselves. Plus the event has been reported by the Americans as a terrorist attack, which causes an international incident with he Moroccans and the ambulance and helicopter that are due to collect her are canceled.
Meanwhile back in LA the Jones‘s Mexican Nanny, who takes care of their kids, wants to go to her sons wedding in Mexico, but can not leave, as they are not coming back in the foreseeable future. I was a little confused by this part, as I could not see how they would be back soon enough, even if Cate Blanchett’s character had not been shot. Anyway, the Nanny decides to take the kids to Mexico with her to the wedding. This results in all sorts of problems with the authorities when another of her sons drives them back drunk and decides to blast through the border control.
Another story line follows the source of the bullet that hit Susan Jones. A poor goat farmer is sold a high powered rifle that he is told can hit a target 3Kms away. He gives it to his two young sons, who’s job it is to guard the goats. The father tells them to shoot Jackals with it. The boys decide to test out the theory that it can hit a target 3Kms away. They take pot shots at a bus they see on a road in the distance. One of the shots is the one that hits Susan Jones. This story line continues with the Moroccan Police searching for the guilty parties, knocking down doors, kicking ass and chewing gum and they are fresh out of gum.
The last story line takes a long while to tie in with the original shooting. It starts with a deaf teenage Japanese girl in Tokyo, who has some sexual issues and has lost her mother. The girl gets naked at inappropriate moments and comes on to boys in a shopping mall and a Police detective who comes to talk to her father about the rifle. Apparently he gave it to a Moroccan guide while he was hunting there, who in turn sold it to the goat farmer.
So in all, four quite different stories, with the shooting being the one link between them. The film is definitely worth watching, although it will severely test your linguistic skills, or your ability to read sub-titles. Babel won an Oscar for it’s soundtrack music and 27 other movie awards. It was also nominated for 75 other awards. So as you can see the film industry thought very highly of it.