Babel — Too Much

by Scott Smith

Rented Babel. Not a good move. The film is too long. Someone should have told the auteur to cut the film by 30 minutes. Note to Ken Burns — Someone at PBS should have told you 6 hours top for The War.

Back to Babel.

I could care less about the characters except for the Japanese teen girl who broke my heart. I didn’t care because the political agenda controlled the story. Maybe that’s why I liked the teen — she didn’t seem to suffer at the hands of ‘The Rifle.’

The rifle begins our tale when a pair of pre-teen Moroccan brothers take their father’s new rifle with them to the mountains. They are grazing the family’s goats, which would be the definition of boredom. Why not shoot the gun?

And they do. At a tourist bus. Go figure, the youngest brother fires a rifle better than Butch and Sundance robbed banks.

The film breaks into four parts: Moroccan kids, white people (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette) in Morocco, the Japanese teen, and the Mexican nanny who cares for Pitt and Blanchette’s kids.

Four different perspectives is quite difficult in a novel and damn problematic in a film. The rifle is a bit flimsy to hold the pieces together. Also, using the press as a thread weaving in and out of the stories is a tired device.

Our auteur aims at violence, police and the press instead of a compelling story with characters deserving my understanding. He misses badly, like the older Moroccan brother shooting at jackals with ‘The Rifle.’