Babel (****)

I am going to sound a little arrogant about my heritage here, but I believe that the current wave of Mexican directors is really showing what great story telling is about to hollywood. Who am I talking about? Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel). That and Gabo (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombian Nobel Prize Winner) making the list of the 20th most influential pieces universal of literature, has me full of pride to be Latin.

If you rent the DVD, I suggest you watch the trailer before the movie. The title explains what the premise of the story is, but it is not about language but just how different we all are. I have not had a movie frighten me as much as this one did in a long time. Not because of the suspense, what made it scary is the reality of some situations and ways of living.

The movie takes place in 3 different timelines. What attaches them all together is a single event, the “terrorist” attack on an American woman. Brad Pitt might be the biggest name in the movie, but the acting by all the kids, Rinko Kikuchi, and Oscar nominee Adriana Barraza.

I am not going to spoil the movie for those of you who have not seen it, but I have to at least give you one example of how different cultures see the same action from different perspectives. As soon as Santiago asked the kids to go get him some chickens, knowing that a wedding was going on, I knew exactly what was going to happen to the chickens. I also have seen first hand what a chicken with its head cut off looks like and acts like. I also felt bad for the kid in the movie that had to see that, because he looked almost traumatized by what he had just witnessed.

Most of us have seen the videos online about the cruelty towards animals in other countries. However, we might not have see how a cow is slaughtered in the US. I have actually talked to a couple of people that have worked in a meat plant and both of them say that they do not eat meat anymore. I have actually seen a cow get slaughtered in a trip I took to see some relatives in Colombia. It was done with a huge knife directly to the jugular. With surgeon like precision the guy taking the life of the cow killed the animal that was later going to be eaten by the people standing around watching it get skinned and prepped. I wonder how many people in the US would stop eating meat or chickens if they saw one being killed.

In other countries it is very normal to see the animal alive that you are going to later eat. Here in the US is very rare that you witness that whole process take place (unless you are a hunger.) During the movie I almost felt like the kid should not have seen that, but why? Why do I feel different when a little white American kid sees a chicken get killed than if my own kids or the Mexican kids in the movie see it. This is what is great about this movie, it makes you see the same stories from so many different perspective, and better yet, it shows how sometimes inequalities play in our lives without us even knowing.

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