Babel is a movie that was directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu. It is a story covering diverse issues taking place in the United States of America, Morocco, Japan, and Mexico.
These are four interlacing stories in the four aforementioned countries. One gun connects these four stories and as the movie nears the end, there is a true revelation of how complex and tragic human lives are around the world and it gives the impression that, life is not that different regardless of location.
According to Innarritu, human life is almost the same across nations and even though people may undergo different situations in life, the bottom line is that, human life is full of suffering and struggles.
The movie starts by a Moroccan Arab selling a gun to a herder who then passes on the gun to his sons to keep away jackals from attacking his goats. Unfortunately, the youngest son uses the gun to shoot a tour bus carrying an American couple on vacation, Richard and Susan. Susan fall victim of this shooting forcing Richard to start looking for medical help.
As the story unfolds, Richard calls home to inform the house nanny, Amelia, about the incidence. Unfortunately, Amelia cannot spend another day with the kids because her son’s wedding is on the following day. The only way out for Amelia is to take Richard’s kids to the wedding in Mexico. The media exaggerates the shooting incidence in Morocco terming it a ‘terrorist attack’. Disaster manifolds as Amelia is stuck at the Mexican border on her way back to San Diego, Richard’s residence.
In Tokyo Japan, things are getting worse. A rejected deaf and dumb girl, Chieko, is grappling with the realities of the contemporary world. In the midst of her struggles, police officers arrive looking for her father; who is associated with selling of the rifle used in Morocco and the story unfolds.
This movie addresses many social issues. Family life stands out. Richard and Susan are in Morocco to reconcile their lives after many days of a strained marriage. Susan accuses Richard of running away after their youngest son died from a sexually transmitted disease. They are blaming each other.
Wedding comes into the scene as Amelia travels to Mexico to attend her son’s wedding. The issue of responsibility in childcare also stands out. Amelia decides to take Richard’s children to Mexico without letter of consent from the parents, a factor that brings her problem at the Mexican border. She later abandons the children in the desert before being arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol.
Rejection and isolation is the other social issue addresses here. Chieko is rejected after her mother commits suicide. She cannot stand her father together with her age mate boys.
Sexual immorality then sets in; Chieko tries to seduce a dentist into sexual relationship; unfortunately, the dentist turns her away. From frustration, Chieko brings her panties down in front of an attractive young man before striping naked before a police officer. The issue of security speaks volumes. Illegal guns are finding their way into the wrong hands. Susan is shot as a result.
The United States of America thinks this is a terrorist attack from the wrong reports from media houses. There is lack of responsibility in informing the citizens with authentic information. This movie is an epitome of what happens after proper communication fails starting from family, friends, state, and the world at large. This is a must-watch movie for it informs a lot about different issues that are taking place in the contemporary society. It is an interesting and informative piece.
In Morocco, Abdullah, a goat herder buys a 270 Winchester M70 rifle plus a box of bullets from Hassan Ibrahim, his Moroccan Arab compatriot. Mr. Abdullah passes on the rifle to his two sons, Ahmed and Yussef, who are supposed to keep away jackals that have been attacking their father’s goats. However, out of curiosity to know the shooting range of the gun, the two boys start a shooting competition. First, they aim at rocks and then at a bus traveling on a road beyond the rocks. The bus screeches to a halt.
The scene then moves to California in the United States of America. Amelia; a Mexican nanny is taking care of two American kids. In the midst of a play, a phone rings; the nanny picks it up and from the other end, a voice says that the wife is ok.
After enquiring about the kids, the voice on the other end promises that someone will be coming over the following morning to take care of the kids. The loving Amelia tucks the kids well into bed as the night progresses (Mondoleo para. 6). Early next morning, the same person calls and tries to explain that the person who was to fly in to look after the kids cannot make it.
Amelia tries to explain that her son’s wedding is taking place that same evening and honestly, she cannot miss that wedding. Out of frustration, the voice on the other side insists that Amelia has to stay before hanging up the phone. After several attempts to find someone to look after the kids to no avail, Amelia decides to take the kids with her to the wedding in Mexico. They are driven down to Mexico by Amelia’s nephew, Santiago.
Richard and Susan are seated a cafe where there is intense argument. Susan blames Richard for running away after the death of their son some months ago. The son died of sexually transmitted disease probably contracted from one of his parents (McCarthy para. 5). They do not seem to understand each other and Susan says she want to leave the cafe.
At this point, we understand that, Richard and Susan took this vacation to Morocco to reconcile their strained marriage. Susan starts to cry and this continues as they board a tour bus. Suddenly, a bullet comes through the window and injures Susan critically at the shoulder.
Chieko, an indifferent and dumb teenage girl probably from Japan cannot control her temper in a volleyball game and she is expelled from the game. Eventually, her team looses the game and the blame lies on her. Though she cannot speak, her teammates use sign language to disapprove her actions. Chieko’s father comes to her rescue with an offer to take her for lunch; however, she cannot hear anything about it. She wants to accompany her friends. However, her father reminds her that she has to visit a dentist later in the day.
The girls move out together and as they play a video game on a table, several handsome boys get in and try to talk to these girls playing a video game. Unfortunately, these girls are so engrossed in the game that they cannot hear or realize the presence of their visitors, the boys.
Finally, the girls realize the presence of the boys; something that embarrasses them and after realizing that they are unwelcome, the boys move out. Chieko in particular is extremely embarrassed by this incident and whilst in the washrooms, she takes off her panties and flashes the boys upon returning to their table.
Back to Morocco, the boys are hurriedly taking goats home. Their father comes home and reports that the road is closed after a terrorist killed an American woman. The boys exchange surreptitious glances probably after learning that the woman is dead.
At the Mexican border, Amelia, the kids and Santiago crosses to Mexico without much ado. As they arrive, the wedding is about to start and everyone is ready for this long-waited event. The kids are not so much concerned about the wedding and after meeting the groom lightly, they join other Mexican kids in a play. However, the kids meet the threat of their lives after they see someone slaughtering a chicken; they had never seen such an incidence.
In the bus back in Morocco, Richard cannot figure out where to take his wife Susan as she writhes in pain. To his dismay, a passenger says that the nearest hospital is over four-hour drive while the nearest clinic is one and half-hours away. Fortunately, they are close to the tour’s guide village and good news is that, there is a doctor in that village.
This looking as the only easy way out, they decide to consult that doctor in the village. Even though other passengers do not want to come along, Richard persuades them not to leave him behind without means of transport. He calls someone, probably the person who was to attend the kids for Amelia to attend the wedding, and asks her to call American embassy in Morocco to come to his rescue.
Within no time, the village doctor, Tazarine, arrives and after preliminary examination, he says that Susan sustained broken shoulder, which would bleed her to death if not stitched. Richard tells Tazarine to do all that he can to save Susan’s life. We then learn that the doctor is a veterinarian and after sterilizing a needle, he stitches Susan without anesthesia.
Chieko enters the dentist’s office and sets her intentions right away even though the dentist does not seem to read between the lines. She starts by licking him and then puts his hand on her crotch. The dentist seems embarrassed by Chieko’s inability to speak. Nevertheless, the dentist reads her intentions after seeing her longing look and at this point, he orders her to leave his office immediately.
On arriving home, Chieko finds two police officers. They do not seem to understand her inability to speak but after exchanging few glances, Chieko realizes that her father is not in the house. The police officers make it clear that her father is not wanted for any criminal offence is only that they want to speak to him.
Chieko goes straight into her apartment where she goes through several television channels and the top stories across the TV channels is of the Morocco shooting and the subsequent arrest of several suspects. Amidst all these, Chieko’s friend arrives from school and indicates that one of the police officers is hot. That night they go to a party without wearing their pants.
Back to Morocco, the two boys obscure the rifle in rocky mountainside. A police investigator stops at the point where Yussef shot the bus and collects some bullet shells. As he looks around for any evidence, he realizes fresh goat droppings and consequently concludes that a local civilian might have shot the bus. Coincidentally, the investigations start at Hassan Ibrahim’s home; the Arab who sold the gun to Abdullah. After a lengthy torture, Ibrahim confesses that he sold a gun to Abdullah, his neighbor.
The police leave Ibrahim to die as they commence their search for Abdullah. Coincidentally, the police meet Abdullah’s boys and upon asking whether they knew Abdullah; Yussef, the youngest and the shooter, gives them the wrong direction. Immediately after the police officers go the wrong way, these two boys rush home to inform their father what had taken place.
The wedding has commenced; everyone is busy while Richard’s kids are enjoying their time engrossed in Mexican plays. Dances and ululations brace the occasion as Amelia nostalgically remembers days of her youth when live and love had meaning.
Susan is still in pain back in Morocco. She is under the good care of Tazarine’s grandmother albeit they cannot communicate due to language barriers. However, their relationship at that moment transcends language barrier, and they seem to get on well with one another. The grandmother brings opium and after Susan puffing three times, she appears relaxed.
In Japan, Chieko hangs out with her friends including some young lads and sign language is flowing well with every one in the group. Interestingly, one of the young lads has whiskey and some pills, which we understand, are ecstasy pills. After having some good time together, the group agrees unanimously to go for a disco.
Chieko cannot get the music right; nevertheless, she can understand the movements and that is enough for her; at least for now. Out of nowhere, one of Chieko’s girlfriends makes out with a man Chieko had secretly liked.
Out of frustration; she storms out of the disco and heads straight to her apartment. She is visibly embarrassed and agitated. On reaching her apartment still in bad moods, she orders the door attendant to call the young police officer for she has something to tell him.
In Morocco, the police officers investigating the shooting incidence are back at Ibrahim’s home. They accuse him of coming up with a story to cover the issue surrounding the gun. Even though Ibrahim maintain that he sold the rifle to Abdullah, the police officers believe that this is a cover up story. Ibrahim’s wife comes to his rescue and shows the police officers a photo of the person who gave out the gun to her husband. To the surprise of many, it is Chieko’s father, Yasujiro.
After the boys tell Abdullah that they were the ones who shot the bus, they all decide to escape. Unluckily, the police officers see them as they escape to the mountains. Immediately, the police officers open fire to the escaping father and his two sons. The three duck and hide behind rocks in the mountains.
Nevertheless, this becomes a dangerous affair, as Ahmed; the older son tries to run; he is shot in the leg. Yussef; the youngest son cannot see as his brother dies in the hands of ruthless police officers; he snatches the rifle; opens fire to the police officers and shoots one of them at the shoulder.
In the wedding, people are becoming tired as it winds up. It is time for Amelia to take the kids back home. Her nephew; Santiago, will drive her. However, Santiago is visibly drunk and the groom doubts whether he will be able to drive back to California. The nephew asserts he is fine to drive and the journey commences amidst doubts.
At the US border, Amelia, Santiago, and the kids are subjected to thorough inspection by police officers. Santiago is becoming anxious and decides not to stop for any other police check. When flagged for a second car check; true to his words, he takes off; an act that causes the border police officers to start car chase. To shake off the police officers, Santiago drops off Amelia together with the kids in the desert and takes off in the car.
Richard and the tour guide relax in the bus as they wait for police officers to come. On the other side, Susan seems relaxed as she sleeps under the warm afternoon weather. After sometime, the Moroccan police officers arrive. They tell Richard that an ambulance had been released to come for Susan but American embassy had canceled the plans.
Instead, they wanted to send helicopter but unfortunately, they encountered some problems with that too. As Richard, tries to reach the American embassy over the phone, the bus that had all along been waiting leaves.
Back to Chieko’s apartment, the young police officer comes in as directed by the door attendant. Chieko takes him to the balcony and tells him that it is on the same spot where she saw her mother jump down to commit suicide. Chieko receives a phone call and she moves into her apartment. As the police officer waits for her, he starts admiring Yasujoro’s hunting trophies. As he goes through the trophies, we see the same photo that Ibrahim’s wife had shown the investigating police officers in Morocco.
The police officer makes it clear to Chieko that he is not there to investigate her mother’s suicide; on the contrary, he is investigating the whereabouts of a gun that had been registered under Yasujiro; her father. He makes clear that the father is not in any trouble and he requests to leave.
However, Chieko has other plans. She asks the police officer to wait a minute only to step out of her room stark naked. She seduces him into touching her but he cannot give in to these temptations. This refusal makes Chieko break down in sobs. However, the young police officer is caring and he holds her amidst her sobs.
As the events unfold, Ahmed tries to run despite being shot at the leg; however, the brutal police officer shoots him dead. This overwhelms the father who runs towards his son and holds his presumably lifeless body.
At this point the younger son; Yussef, runs and surrenders to the police officers. He admits opening fire to the bus and adds that his older brother and father had committed no crime pertaining to that shooting incidence. He also confesses that he is the one responsible for shooting the police officer some minutes ago.
The morning after wedding has come. Amelia together with the kids has spent the night in the open cold desert. A patrol car passes by, but does not realize the presence of these wretched woman and kids. They embark on a mission to trace where her nephew went but this turns out to be mission impossible.
The children cannot walk and Amelia has to carry the little girl; however, she cannot carry her for long distance. Finally, she leaves the kids under a tree shade and after long distance of searching Santiago; she comes across a border patrol car and stops it. In turn of events, instead of the officers on board helping her to save the kids, they cuff her. It takes Amelia’s persistence for them to go back where she had left the kids.
To Amelia’s dismay, the kids are gone. The officers start a frantic search for the kids and they add patrol cars and even helicopters. Chieko is through with sobbing and apologizes honestly to the young police officer. An immigration officer lambastes Amelia severely for the neglect she had shown by leaving the kids alone.
The final word is that Amelia has to be deported and her son comes for her at the Mexican border. Richard gets the news that his children had been abandoned in the middle of a desert; he becomes angry, but decides not to take any legal action against Amelia. The investigating police officers back in Morocco takes Yussef away as he reminisces the gone by days when he used to play with his brother.
A helicopter comes to take Susan to hospital; Richard offers the tour guide some cash but he turns it down. In the hospital, a doctor comes out to spell doom; Susan had internal bleeding and she has to lose her arm. Richard breaks the news home amid sobs and enquires about his kids’ day. Chieko’s father arrives home only to bump into police officer who seeks to know about the gun given to a Moroccan Arab. Yasujiro admits that he gave it to him because he was a nice man.
The police officer narrates how he had talked with Chieko and says he was sorry that the mother’s demise through suicide by jumping from a balcony. Chieko’s father posits that his wife did not jump off the balcony; she shot herself dead. The police officer promises not to trouble the family again and he leaves for a dinner. Later on, Susan is released from a hospital in Casablanca and her woes are over. The movie ends with so many unresolved issues.
The movie Babel addresses diverse social issues in the contemporary society regardless of location. This is a valiant and a successful compelling attempt that highlights international misunderstanding, loss of lives, sorrow, and ennui that is so rampant in our society (Bennett para. 8). At the end of it all, one can conclude that, there is no absolute truth in this life. Sheer propaganda can come to be accepted as truth and without getting to the root of the matter; we can never know the truth.
Perhaps the most outstanding social issue across the nations is family life. Richard and Susan are on vacation in Morocco to reconcile their strained marriage. Strained marriages on verge of breaking are the rule of the day in today’s world. The world all over, marriage institution has proved to be the most difficult institution to manage.
Divorce rate is on the increase and this explains in part why single parent hood is on the rise. Richard and Susan are not different; they are experiencing what majority of married couples undergo every other day. Back in California, Amelia is taking care of Richard’s two kids. She is a loving nanny and she appears to make a perfect caregiver (Bennett para. 9). No wander after someone fails to come to take care of the kids for her to go to her son’s wedding; she decides to go with the kids.
In Morocco, family life also comes out clearly. Abdullah has two sons and he gets them a gun to keep off jackals from attacking his goats. This portrays another side of family life in a different culture. Family life differs from culture to culture. Abdullah does not seem careful enough when handing over a gun to his sons; however, that is the family lifestyle over there.
In Japan, we find a single father and a dumb girl, Chieko. This is an epitome of a single parenthood (Tyler para. 14). We understand the woman in the house committed suicide by shooting herself. As aforementioned, single parenthood is common nowadays and Babel brings out this issue. Even though single parenthood is not necessarily due to suicide, the fact remains that this trend is high in the 21st Century than ever.
Communication barrier is very eminent social issue in this movie. There is a possibility that Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu uses the title Babel as a symbol of the Tower of Babel in the bible where God brought down language confusion so that the creation may not finish constructing the tower (Tyler para. 4). Right from the beginning, language barrier sets in. Richard and Susan cannot communicate effectively with Moroccan natives.
Chieko on the other side cannot speak at all. The movie is full of miscommunication. Starting from family level to international level, there is lack of proper communication. Communication between Susan and Richard has broken down leading to strained relationship. America and Morocco has strained relationship after the shooting incidence and this is due to miscommunication.
Wedding comes out as the other social issue highlighted in this movie. Wedding is so important to many people and they cherish this special occasion. Actually, they will do anything to attend this occasion (Alexander para. 6).
This fact comes out in the way Amelia reacts after hearing that she has to take care of Richard’s kids at the expense of her son’s wedding. Even though she knows that she is an illegal immigrant in the US, she takes the kids to Mexico without Richard’s permission. This highlights how important wedding is in our society today. No one would love to miss such an occasion.
In the wedding, everything is set just to make sure that the event goes on as planned. One of the cherished dreams in any young person’s life is wedding. It such an important social issue that many are not even patient enough to wait for the right time. Whether it is marriage or the wedding that delights people, we cannot tell; however, the fact remains that, wedding is very important in lives of nearly all people.
Babel highlights the issue of security. No one is secure regardless of location. In Morocco, Susan is shot from carelessness of a father and a son. Even though the issue does not seem grave in the first place, it turns out chaotic after Ahmed is shot as he tries to escape.
In retaliation, Yussef shoots a police officer. One wonders how secure in our society today (Alexander para. 8). The issue of guns finding their way to careless people like Abdullah raises security matters. The issue of terrorism is rife in society today. After Susan is shot, the United States of America has it that, this is a terrorist attack. This propaganda sends the wrong message. It draws international attention for no reason.
Immorality is so rife in our society today. Even though Chieko tries to get into immorality due to lack of emotional connection, the movie has it clear that immorality is still existent. Chieko tries three times to seduce three different people without success. First, it was the dentist, then a young cute boy and finally the young police officer.
She is willing to have sex regardless of the cost (Dermansky para. 8). Babel in other words is saying that immorality is alive and well and gives out an outline of how we should handle it; do not give in to sexual advances. However, this is not the case; people are engaging in sex at very tender age. This takes us to the next social issue and that is drug abuse.
Santiago, though he is seemingly young, is intoxicated with alcohol to a point of incoherence. Chieko and her friends are always out partying where alcohol is the rule of the day. In one incident, we see a young man packing ecstasy pills in a box to it with him for a night disco.
This is drug abuse. Today, the most difficult fight to overcome is fight against addiction (Mondello para. 9). People from all lifestyles and ages are into addiction. Talk of youth going to grave early from drug abuse. It is a fight that calls for concerted efforts if we are to win it at the end.
The issue of love is not left out. Richard and Susan are in love and this is why they married and are working tirelessly to redeem their marriage from going down the drain (Alexander para. 12). Chieko yearns for love, which proves to be so elusive in her life. She no longer enjoys full parental love after her mother commits suicide.
Chieko’s friends are all in love and this comes out clearly that night Chieko goes out at night only to see one of her friends move out with a man she admires. Amelia is a loving nanny and she tends Richard’s children very well. Amelia’s son is in love with his bride and that is why he marries her hence the wedding.
Poor media cannot pass without recognition. Despite the fact that Susan is shot accidentally by curious boys, media propagates the propaganda that this is a terrorist attack (Block para. 9). Consequently, the whole world is fooled into believing that terrorists have found their way to Morocco. Of course, the audience knows better.
This is poor media and it denies the public their right to know exactly what happens in the world without bias or speculation. Authenticity is lacking when it comes to media coverage in the movie. This fact reflects how the society is today. The fact that law protects media houses not to reveal the source of information they feed people with, it propagates poor media to some extent.
Babel highlights immigration policies and international relations (Dermansky para. 6). There are reports that the helicopter that was to ferry Susan to hospital has been arrested for flying in Moroccan airspace. Relationship between America and Morocco becomes tense as the US try to push Morocco to pursue the ‘terrorists.’
On the other side, Amelia encounters problem when trying to enter the US after the wedding. Even though she has travel papers, she does not have written consent from the kids’ parents. We understand that for children to travel out of the country without their parents they need to have a written consent to comply with immigration policies.
There is lack of responsibility in childcare. Richard and Susan decide to leave their two kids in the hands of a nanny. Amelia then abandons the kids in the middle of desert and this shows utter lack of responsibility in childcare.
Babel is a masterpiece that tries to address different social issues that happen in society today. Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu uses four countries, the US, Morocco, Japan, and Mexico. These four countries and the different characters in the movie are connected through a single gun.
Even though the rifle comes into scene first in Morocco, we later find out that it originated from Japan and used to shoot an American who has her children abandoned in Mexico by a nanny. Miscommunication is evident throughout the movie. People do not seem to understand each other and this stretches to international levels where the US does not seem to understand exactly the shooting incidence in Morocco.
Susan is shot while on vacation in Morocco to save her failing relationship with Richard, her husband. They have left their children with Amelia; a Mexican nanny who has to attend her son’s wedding. She takes Richard’s kids with her and later abandons them in the middle of desert to look for help.
In Japan, Chieko, a dumb and indifferent teenage girl does not seem to get anything right. Due to rejection and emotional disconnection, she tries to get love in all manners; however, exposing her nudity to men seems her favorite. Her mother committed suicide leaving a void in her life.
At the end of it all, Susan overcomes her grief and retains her arm despite fears that she would lose it. Richard reunites with his kid and vows never to leave them again. The family of Abdullah is devastated; Ahmed, the elder son dies from police shooting; the young son is arrested leaving Abdullah a wretched man.
Amelia is deported to Mexico and Chieko never finds that elusive love she has craved for years. The movie is full of suspension and the viewers are left to make their own conclusions. Some rate it highly, other rate it lowly; however, it depends on the angle that one sees it from.
Alejandro G. Innarritu. “Babel.” 2006. 11 Dec. 2009.
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Bennett, Ray. “Babel.” May 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2009.
Block, Melissa. “Director Innarritu Spins a Global Tale in Babel.” Oct. 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2009.
Dermansky, Marcy. “Babel – A film by Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu.” Dec. 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2009. http://worldfilm.about.com/od/independentfilm/fr/Babel.htm
McCarthy, Todd. “Babel.” May 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2009.
Mondello, Bob. “Babel Weaves a Story Out of Noise, Desperation.” Oct. 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2009.
Tyler, Ray. “Babel.” Sept. 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2009.