TEFL Logue Review: Babel

poster1.jpgAfter reading (some time ago) ESL Pundit’s post about Babel, which won a Golden Globe for Best Drama, and hearing the comments of others (also some time ago), I finally got ahold of this film.

I’ll be honest: I don’t see myself as having the artistic bent which I like to think others who write about film, art or literature in an insightful way do. So please bear with me.

I liked much about this film and recommend it, specifically to those with an interest in language, communication, and all things international. Here are a selection of my comments.

  • ESL Pundit made this connection, which I read about before seeing the film and I think added an interesting element to my thoughts on it:

    “Interestingly, the etymology of the title of the movie “Babel” is Middle English/Hebrew/Akkadian- gate of god. “Babel” is also associated with biblical times and the confusion and turmoil that resulted from lack of communication.

    The word “babble” is also used to refer to a language stage that children pass through when acquiring language. The fact that it is a language stage suggests that it is a step toward communication.”

  • Very simply, I love that the film took place in four different countries and involved protagonists from all of them. Despite the different cultures and languages, these people could be considered to have faced many of the same challenges; the communication barrier wasn’t always between people with different languages or backgrounds.
  • On a similar note, I found I could relate to elements of all of the stories. The two Moroccan boys could have been Greg and Peter Brady – despite the time warp (I’m not that old!), kids I felt I grew up with. I can imagine the Japanese girl’s story as an after school special starring Clare Danes. Granted, these are rather silly cultural references – I certainly don’t mean to make light of the stories or draw any real connection to after school specials; my point is that while the characters hailed from countries across the world, there are still examples of how similar we all are.
  • I have to admit I had some language-barrier issues of my own as local language titles were often placed over the English ones, meaning sometimes I could only half understand the dialog, but I enjoyed the film nonetheless. Like with director Inarritu’s 21 Grams, Babel had its harrowing moments – perhaps the sign of a good drama.

I realize I’m a bit behind the times but if you’re overseas you might be just as behind as me – if so, go see this film!