Babel (Blu-Ray)

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The cover of Babel doesn’t do it justice, but it is dramatic and has all the key players to catch your attention. The menu is about as plain as you can get. For a Blu-Ray disc it’s surely not trying to impress anybody with flashy menus or packaging.

Features: 1/10
NO EXTRAS… Blu-Ray with no extras, shameful.

The Movie: 9/10
Babel has had a certain impact on my psyche. It didn’t change my life or anything dramatic like that. It simply reminded me of a few things I keep losing track of when it comes to people. I guess I need a film to keep me in touch with that good side of humans. This is a movie with a trio of stories, all chris crossing and connecting with one thread holding them to each other.

A couple on a tour bus in Morocco coping with cracks in their marriage due to the death of a small child. The tension is laid out like a blanket at a picnic. There’s not illusion or confusion about why they are traumatized by life. She’s kind of a bitch and he’s got some lost look in his eye that makes him distant, until the moment that snaps them into a new reality, beyond their marital and personal issues. She is shot by a random bullet.

A deaf teenage girl in Japan struggles with tension between she and her father. She’s got a certain rebelliousness about her, but she’s still so vulnerable. Her fragile state of mind is seemingly related to her mother’s death. The contrast of the city in Japan and the dessert village in Morocco is stark and had an effect on how I digested each story. The young girl is surrounded by people, things, activity, and yet is alone in her own way. We get a hint of her experience as the sound occasional disappears and all we see are things from her point of view. The couple in Morocco are in a barren environment with not very many people, but because they are Americans and on a simple tour bus, I had that internal sense of security for him, as if they were safe and only a short distance from the comforts of that city life we see in Japan, but they too are virtually alone.
A woman takes two children with her to a wedding. An innocent act that turns into a nightmare when the trip involves taking the children across the Mexican/American border. The woman finds herself trudging through the hot desert, alone, responsible for what could become a horrible tragic ending for the three of them. She is helpless, and alone.

The three stories spider out into other stories with people who are touched by or precipitate the events that the lead characters are coping with. I call it a collage, but that’s my artsy background coming out. I’m not sure what his style of story telling is called, but I enjoy it a lot when it’s done well, and Babel does it very well.

The gritty up close shots of the desperate people in situations they cannot grasp how to deal with made me feel like I was feeling their pain, or at least from a distance. The sets and locations are incredible. I wouldn’t be ashamed to say naively that I think everything was done on location with no back lot sets or manufactured settings for the most part..but then again, I know the truth probably is that it’s all make believe. That’s fine. I felt it was real enough to take me to those places, hot, busy, loud, desolate, isolated..whatever. So, that’s a bonus for me.

I never under estimate the power of a good cry, but I always want it to be because of someone fictional’s pain, not mine or someone I care about. Like I said before, it reminded me that there are things in this world to feel bad about that don’t involve me and my own hardships or failures or bad days. There are people who have pain and hurt and who are lost without a certainty in their lives. I can’t always be so jaded and think people are too weak to just get on with things. That’s a pretty good lesson to learn from a simple little film that will eventually get lost amongst the millions of other movies in the world…but it will be a long long time before I forget it, that’s for sure.

Value: 7/10

No matter what it costs, I can’t bring myself to recommend buying a Blu-Ray disc that has no extras. The movie is excellent. It could even change your life, but we are talking dollars to entertainment volume here, and without bonus features, this disc just isn’t screaming to be on my shelf forever. I can and will, however, give it a high score for the overall experience simply watching the movie was for me, even though it’s not an amazing DVD package.

Overall Score 9/10