In Alejandro Iñarritu’s cinematic world, the order of things is subverted. Time is chopped and events are shuffled. Cars become, not media of safe transport, but catalysts of tragedy. And one fatal shot from a rifle becomes the means to salvation.Such is the case with his film, BABEL, the third of his trilogy of heart-crunchers, first of which was Amores Perros (Love’s a Bitch) and then 21 Grams.
In BABEL, just as in the former two, various lives from three different places intersect, but this time in a shooting accident involving two Moroccan herd boys and an American wife (Cate Blanchett) and her American husband (a gray-haired, 10 years older Brad Pitt)on a bus tour around exotic Morocco. The two Moroccan boys engage in a fatal target practice on a passing bus to test the range of their new rifle and accidentally shots a sleeping American woman aboard (Blanchett). The reverberations of that one rifle shot spans miles across seas: In San Diego, a Mexican nanny is forced to take along her American ward of two blond kids to her son’s wedding in Mexico. Meanwhile, in Japan, a deaf-mute high school girl struggles to feel wanted and understood by normal boys her age.
BABEL is a film about the very thing that binds us: language. But Iñarritu challenges the notion of language, both spoken and signed, as effective conveyors of the message. It also serves to destroy, to create barriers, to deafen ears. What he offers instead is this: A bullet communicates better than words. It is not made to destroy lives but to destroy the veneer of people’s indifference. In its process of destruction, it exposes people’s fears and hopes.
Here, Iñarritu delivers.