Babel (2006) - 2-Disc Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Drama
Paramount || R - 143 minutes - $34.99 || September 25, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-09-23


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director:
Writer(s):
Cast:


Theatrical Release Date: November 10, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Common Ground: Under Construction Notes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Four stories, three continents and five languages. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu took the difficult task of trying to meld all these elements into a language that is universal to all and that is the moving image. Iñárritu's past films such as “Amores Perros” and “21 Grams” all deal with the intertwining of multiple storylines and the merging of these stories into the final act. However, Iñárritu has never attempted to make a film on the scale that “Babel” covers. In “Babel”, we see a story about a Moroccan family in their village, a prototypical white husband and wife on a trip in Morocco, a Mexican family and their troubles at the Border with the children of that prototypical white American couple and finally the story of a deaf mute in Japan. Iñárritu does his best to merge these stories together but in the end, I do think he falls short.

Though I do think the film is not quite as good as it could be, I still respect Iñárritu for his attempt at making a film of this scope and the area it covers. “Babel” marks the third time that Alejandro González Iñárritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga have worked together to make a film. Arriaga wrote “21 Grams” and “Amores Perros” for Iñárritu and also wrote “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada’ for director/actor Tommy Lee Jones a few years back. Arriaga has made a name for himself as a writer who is interested in the intertwining lives of people who would likely never meet had it not been for a certain accident or some sort of event that brings them all together. Even though this is the third collaboration between Iñárritu and Arriaga, I do think it is their weakest film to date. The four storylines never fully merge by the end of the film.

I found the story of the Moroccan brothers to easily be the best story in the entire film. The two young non-actors do a remarkable job in their first acting role and without a doubt steal the movie. I actually wish that Iñárritu would have just made a film around those two characters instead of attempting to link 3 or 4 other storylines together. I also did find the story of the Japanese mute girl to be very fascinating. With the exception of the story of the Japanese mute, I think the other two storylines with the Mexican nanny and the family she takes care of are both good but nothing really fascinating in terms of a storyline.

The problem with the film is that the individual stories are actually quite intriguing but the final result and culmination of these storylines does not fully come together by the end of the almost 2 ½ hour film. As a result, we do get a story that is heavy on an emotional level but weak in terms of the fusion of these emotions into a collective film.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Though the DVD is advertised as a "2 Disc Collectors Edition," the only extra added on the DVD is a documentary on the making of the film.

Common Ground: Under Construction Notes is an 86-minute look at the making of Babel. We follow Iñárritu along with the cast and crew as they film on three continents while filming in 5 different languages. It was fascinating to see what challenges Iñárritu and his crew faced in each location they filmed at. The obvious difficulty was the language barrier Iñárritu faced in each location. We see how truly difficult it can be for a director to communicate what he wants to his actors who speak a completely different language than he does. Iñárritu is forced to tell an interpreter what he wants, and then the interpreter tells the actors, the actors respond to the interpreter and then the interpreter tells Iñárritu. This cycle continues when Iñárritu is in Morocco and in Japan. Iñárritu's frustrations are shown very clearly as he expresses his dilemma in trying to make the film. The only time Iñárritu is truly relaxed is when he is in his home country of Mexico and finally able to communicate what he wants directly to his actors. Regardless of what you may think of the film, I still think this documentary is worth seeing because of the unique nature and scope of “Babel”.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Both the audio and video transfer on “Babel” are quite good. The film is shown in a 1.85: 1 anamorphic widescreen and the color balance is as good as it can be. The various colors of the landscapes and cities that Babel covers all come off beautifully on the transfer.

Babel’s audio options are Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 in English and an option for French in 5.1. There were no noticeable audio errors over the course of the film. The film is rather dialogue heavy so that is a good thing.



.::OVERALL::.

Though the documentary added to the DVD is one of the better produced docs I've seen recently, I still found it disappointing that it was the only feature added to the "2 Disc Collectors Edition." Seeing as how the 1 disc edition was bare bones and released less than a year ago, one would think that the DVD producers would try and put a nice package together that would make one double dip if they already owned the bare bones DVD. Maybe a commentary by Iñárritu or other members of the cast and crew could have been recorded? Maybe deleted scenes or some more interviews with the actors could have been added? I just find it odd that they didn't just add the 86 minute documentary on the original release and save time on having a second DVD release only a few months later.

But I guess that is the DVD market that studios are moving more and more towards and that is a product of the fact that DVD's have been the main source of where most big budget Hollywood films make their profit. If you already own the bare bones DVD, I would stick with that one. I believe the audio/video transfers are identical to the 1 disc release. However, the documentary is well made and worth seeing. I just don't know is it is worth spending an additional $20-25 to see it. If you are a fan of the film and own the 1 disc edition, I would just Netflix, rent or borrow the DVD from a friend.