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Babel - Preview

Brad Pitt in Babel

Preview by Jack Foley

ONE of the best films to emerge at Cannes, according to critics, was Babel, the latest film from 21 Grams director, Alejandro González Iñárritu.

The film boasts a truly international cast including Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt and Gael Garcia Bernal and is based around a story in the Bible about the renowned tower, Babel, that was built by mankind united together to attain Paradise.

This enterprise provoked the wrath of God, who, to separate them, had each of the men involved speak a different language, thus putting an end to the project and spreading over the Earth a disorientated people incapable of communicating.

The film picks up in Morocco, where a mere gunshot triggers off a series of events that has disastrous or life-saving consequences, according to the protagonists involved.

“With Babel, I wanted to explore the contradiction between the impression that the world has become quite small due to all the communication tools which we have, and the feeling that human beings are still incapable of expressing themselves and communicating amongst themselves on a fundamental level,” explains Iñárritu.

The Ecumenical Jury Prize was awarded to Babel at Cannes – although it was widely tipped to be in the frame for the Palme d’Or, which subsequently went to Ken Loach for The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

It certainly registered strongly with critics, many of whom showered it with praise.

The Times, for instance, wrote that ‘the final part of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s trilogy, which began with Amores Perros and continued with 21 Grams, is a stunning piece of cinema… This was one of the most eagerly awaited films in competition for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and it doesn’t disappoint on any level.”

And the Hollywood Reporter began its review by saying: “Tense, relentless and difficult to watch at times, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel is an emotionally shattering drama in which a simple act of kindness leads to events that pierce our veneer of civilization and bring on the white noise of terror.”

Speaking about the film at a Cannes press conference, one of its stars, Cate Blanchett, said: “This film is all about connections between parents and children, which I think so many of us understand. It felt very personal for me as well as for Alejandro.

“Being a parent, when you see a child in danger, particularly with an irresponsible nanny, it engages me, it’s like pulling the roots of my system out. It’s very distressing.”

On working with Brad Pitt, she added: “It’s like chocolate. He’s glorious and wonderful. We’ve been wanting to work with one another for a long time and to work together in quite an unexpected way and for Brad to be doing something for an audience, and Alejandro, it was intensely riveting.

“The moment of him, which is so beautifully judged in terms of where it’s placed in the film but also so exquisitely performed, when he speaks with the children on the phone at the end, I think it’s one of the most moving moments in a film.”

Babel opens in the UK later this year.

Loach takes Palme d’Or