Film Review: Babel

Bryan and I just saw Babel this weekend while away without the kids. And by the way, I don’t recommend watching this movie when you are away from your children on a vacation – it causes an irrational fear about what YOUR babysitters are up to…. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I mean.

But all that aside, I really enjoyed the film, if ‘enjoyed’ is the appropriate term for such heavy content. I was pleased that it was not turned into a Brad Pitt Blockbuster, but that his role was actually on equal ground with all the other major players, and he was not given a special limelight just because he has a pretty face.

One of the conversations that Bryan and I had was in comparing it to Crash in the way the two movies give you a slice of life into how these people are connected. We liked the dissonance of Babel, that not everything was wrapped up in neat bow, that not everything in life is resolved the way we want it to be. I think Crash was a great film overall, but it contained that cheeseball scene where Matt Dillon’s character just HAPPENS to drive past the accident of the gal he had violated, and just HAPPENS to be able to redeem himself by rescuing her from a burning vehicle.

I just thought that was hokey.

I also liked the contrast between the American kids and the Moroccan kids. The American kids were soft, and dependent, and spoiled, while the Moroccan kids were tough and carried their weight within the family and farming structure. The American kids were lost and afraid in the desert, while the Moroccan kids made a life in the harsh desert.

Not a mind-blowing thing to point out, but I always appreciate perspective on my cushy American life.

It seems I’ve been watching a lot of films with strong willed kids in them, or kids with a strong ‘life-force’ as my friend, Kristin, likes to call it. I mentioned in another post my thoughts on the boy from Duma, and Ofelia from Pan’s Labyrinth – how these kids possessed a strong life-force that caused desert drifters to follow them and frogs to regurgitate large keys – how I think of my own children, and whether they will possess a strong life-force.

The young Moroccan boy in Babel has a strong life-force, only he is deviant and cocky, and his lack of discernment and concern for others has tragic outcomes for many people around him. His life-force leaves behind a wake of sadness, not one of admiration. So now I have the contrast of these two kinds of life-forces in children – in one example I am in awe of these kids and their use of the strong character they are given, but in this other example, the Moroccan boy, I am terrified by what damage a strong life-force can cause, and it gives me pause to consider how I lead my strong willed daughter through life.

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