AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Babel
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Dir)
Release Date:   27 Oct 2006
Duration (in mins):  142-43
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Cast: Brad Pitt  (Richard)
  Cate Blanchett  (Susan)
  Mohamed Akhzam  (Anwar)
 

Summary: On the vast, barren hillsides of Morocco, goatherd Abdullah buys a rifle from his neighbor Hassan, then orders his adolescent sons Yussef and Ahmed to use it to kill jackals attacking the herd. While tending the goats that day, Yussef, at Ahmed’s prompting, tries proving Hassan’s claim that the gun has a three-kilometer range by taking a potshot at a passing tourist bus. Seeing the bus stop, the boys race home but do not tell their parents about the incident. Meanwhile, American Richard, who is vacationing with his wife Susan in Morocco, calls his home in San Diego where Mexican nanny Amelia is staying with the couple’s children Mike and Debbie. When Richard insists that Amelia remain with the children, she quietly protests that she must attend the wedding of her son Luis in Mexico. Despite knowing that crossing the border with the American children is illegal, Amelia decides to take them with her to the wedding, accompanied by her reckless but charming nephew Santiago, who drives them. Earlier at an outdoor café in Morocco, Richard is still convinced that their Moroccan vacation will help him and his wife reconnect after the sudden death their infant son Sam; however, Susan’s lingering depression and resentment continues to divide them. Soon after boarding their tourist bus, Susan reaches out for Richard, but is suddenly hit by a bullet that crashes through the window. In Japan, after deaf-mute teenager Chieko is thrown out of a volleyball game for her insolent behavior, her father Yasujiro, knowing that his daughter is acting out over her mother’s recent suicide, patiently reminds her that he misses his wife, too. Soon after at J-Pop Special club, Chieko and her friend Mitsu flirt with several boys from across the restaurant, but are soon ridiculed when the boys find out they are deaf. Outraged at being treated like a “monster” and desperate for some kind of communication, Chieko flashes the boys with the “real monster” under her skirt. Meanwhile, in a small, dusty Mexican village, dozens gather to attend Luis and Patricia’s wedding. At first shy and bewildered by the different culture, Mike and Debbie soon join other children from the village in capturing chickens to slaughter for the celebration, which continues long into the night with dancing and music. Hours earlier, the Moroccan tour bus pulls to a halt as Richard screams for someone to help his wife. Far from a city, tour guide Anwar suggests driving the bus to his home town Tazarine, where the American, Australian and European tourists are immediately filled with animosity toward the villagers, whom they assume must be terrorists. Leaving the tourists on the bus, Richard carries Susan into Anwar’s house and calls his sister Rachel, ordering her to contact the American embassy. Meanwhile, when the only doctor, a veterinarian, pulls out a crude needle and thread to sew up Susan’s wound to prevent her from bleeding to death, Richard and Anwar must hold the terrified Susan down for the procedure. At the same time in Japan, Chieko, after being thrown out of her dentist’s office for trying to kiss him, returns to her luxurious apartment building where she meets two detectives looking for her father. Chieko takes Detective Kenji’s card, although she is wary of his intentions after the recent police investigation into her mother's death. After learning from their father that a tourist was killed on a bus by terrorists, Yussef and Ahmed hide the gun in the hills. Nearby, Police Captain Alarid and his men brutally interrogate Hassan, until he tells them he sold the gun to Abdullah and explains that the gun was given to him by a Japanese hunter as a gift. Returning home from hiding the gun, Yussef and Ahmed are stopped by the police. Yussef misleads them in their quest for Abdullah and races home where he admits to his father that he shot the gun, but accuses Ahmed of prompting him. Desperate to deflect his father’s wrath, Ahmed blurts out that Yussef has been watching their sister Zohra undress. Equally angered by the shooting and Yussef’s breach of family code, Abdullah lashes out at the boys. In Tazarine, the tourists rudely refuse the villagers’ offers of food and tell Richard he has only thirty minutes until they leave without him and Susan. While Moroccan television reports that the U.S. government overreacted by insinuating that the shooting was terrorist-related, Anwar’s mother gingerly holds Susan’s head to help her smoke a pipe containing drugs to soothe her excruciating pain and hysteria. At a Japanese park, Chieko and Mitsu meet Haruki, the cousin of a teammate, and two other boys, who speak slowly enough for the girls to lip-read what they are saying. Assured by their friendliness, the girls get high on drugs and whiskey and traverse the city in a giggling bliss with the boys, ending at a disco, where Chieko is disillusioned when she sees Mitsu making out with Haruki. Arriving at home, Chieko then asks the doorman to call Kenji, to whom she was attracted earlier. In Morocco, the police spot Abdullah and the boys fleeing in the hills and start shooting. The three take cover behind rocks, but when Ahmed is shot in the leg, Yussef, seeing no other way to save his family, shoots at the officers, wounding one. Meanwhile in Mexico, despite Luis’ protests that Santiago is drunk and has a police record, Amelia, with no other way to return to San Diego, loads Mike and Debbie into his car. At the border, an officer, seeing the white children with the obviously drunk Santiago and fearful Amelia, searches the car and demands that Amelia show them a letter of permission from the children’s parents. Incensed and afraid, Santiago speeds away, then drops the now-weeping Amelia and children in the desert far from any road, promising to return for them after he has lost the police, who are in close pursuit. Back in Tazarine, after hours of waiting, Richard grows more frustrated upon learning that the American Embassy is sending a helicopter, having stopped the ambulance for fear of further “terrorist acts.” When the belligerent tourists then accuse him of endangering their lives, Richard hits one of the men, prompting the group to commandeer the bus and leave. In Japan, Chieko, who believes the police are still investigating her mother's suicide, tells the detective that she saw her mother jump from the balcony. Seeing the picture of Yasujiro hunting in Morocco, the detective is shocked by the family tragedy and tries to explain that his questions are about an unrelated matter. As he attempts to leave, Chieko tries to seduce him by returning to the room nude. When the detective pushes her away, Chieko bursts into tears at another rejection and miscommunication. After he comforts her with a long embrace, Chieko writes him a note, insisting that he read it later. On the hillside in Morocco, officers shoot and kill Ahmed, prompting Yussef to bash the gun against a rock and then walk bravely toward them with his hands held high in surrender, crying “I killed the American” and begging them to save his brother. Meanwhile at Anwar’s house, Susan and Richard finally cry together for Sam, absolving each other of any wrongdoing. After sleeping on the desert floor, Amelia and the children awaken to a desolate landscape that is soon unbearably hot. Forced to leave the children under the shade of a tree with no water, Amelia continues alone for help. Hours later, Amelia stumbles across the sand to chase down a passing patrol vehicle, but the officer immediately arrests her on suspicion of kidnapping, expressing little sympathy for her pleas to save the children. Later at a police facility, Amelia is told the children were found. The officer continues that, although the children could have died in the adverse conditions, Richard has declined to press charges against her. Despite Amelia’s pleas that she has lovingly reared the children since birth and has lived in the U.S. for sixteen years, the officer coldly states that because she is an illegal resident, he is recommending voluntary deportation, threatening further action against her if she refuses. Soon after, Amelia meets Luis in Mexico and cries in his arms at the loss of her American life. In Tazarine, as the helicopter descends to pick up Richard and Susan, Richard attempts to repay Anwar for his kindness, but he gently refuses. Reaching a hospital in a nearby city, dozens of reporters and camera crews descend on the couple, anxious to cover the “injured American.” Once in the hospital, Richard calls Amelia, ordering her to stay with the children despite her son’s wedding. At the sound of his children’s voices on the phone, he weeps helplessly. At the same time in Japan, Kenji, seeing Yasujiro in the lobby of the apartment building, asks about the gun in the photograph, explaining that it was registered to Yasujiro and was used in an attempted murder. Yasujiro says he gave it to Hassan as a gift and, although concerned about Hassan, is more grateful to hear that he is not implicated. When the detective then offers his condolences to Yasujiro for his wife’s fatal fall from the balcony, Yasujiro orders him to leave, informing him that his wife shot herself and Chieko was the first to find her. Moments later, as Kenji sees a television report on Susan’s recovery and reads Chieko’s note, Yasujiro, finding his daughter nude on the balcony, tenderly embraces her and sobs with her over their incredible loss and loneliness. 

Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures Corp.
Production Company: Paramount Vantage
Anonymous Content
Central Films
Zeta Film
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Dir)
  Alfonso Gómez-Rejón (2d unit dir)
  Sebastián Silva (1st asst dir)
  Ali Tahiri (1st asst dir, Morocco)
  Takuma Yoshimi (1st asst dir, Japan)
  Maurico Lule Camacho (2d unit 1st asst dir/2d AD, Mexico)
  Shinya Masuda (2d 1st asst dir, Japan)
  Joaquin Silva (2d asst dir, Morocco)
  Mouhssine El Badaoui (2d asst dir, Morocco)
  Mariana Silva (2d asst dir, Mexico)
  Kensuke Shiga (2d asst dir, Japan)
  Daniel Jacobs (2d 2d asst dir, Mexico)
  Julián "Chico" Valdez (Addl 2d 2d asst dir, Mexico)
  Sadahiro Sonoda (3rd asst dir, Japan)
  Toshitaka Furuike (4th asst dir, Japan)
  Yuho Tadano (Addl asst dir, Japan)
  Fumiaki Nojo (Addl asst dir, Japan)
  Ippei Ishibashi (Addl asst dir, Japan)
  Kenichi Fukuyama (Addl asst dir, Japan)
  Kazumasa Kobayashi (Addl asst dir, Japan)
  Fumitsugu Ijuin (Addl asst dir, Japan)
  Shinichiro Asakura (Addl asst dir, Japan)
  Tetsuhiko Tsuchiya (Addl asst dir, Japan)
Producer: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Prod)
  Jon Kilik (Prod)
  Steve Golin (Prod)
  Ann Ruark (Co-prod)
  Ahmed Jimmy Abounouom (Line prod, Morocco)
  Tita Lombardo (Line prod, Morocco)
  Kay Ueda (Line prod, Morocco)
  Norihisa Harada (Line prod, Japan)
  Corinne Golden Weber (Assoc prod)
Writer: Guillermo Arriaga (Wrt)
  Guillermo Arriaga (Based on an idea by)
  Alejandro González Iñárritu (Based on an idea by)

Subject Major: Cultural conflict
  Death and dying
  Family relationships
  Grief
  Loneliness
 
Subject Minor: Adolescents
  Aliens, Illegal
  Baja California (Mexico)
  Border patrols
  Brothers
  Deaf-mutes
  Dentists
  Deserts
  Detectives
  Drugs
  Flirtation
  Goatherds
  Interrogation
  Morocco
  Nannies
  Nightclubs
  Police
  Rifles
  San Diego (CA)
  Suicide
  Terrorism
  Tokyo (Japan)
  Tour guides
  Vacations
  Veterinarians
  Volleyball
  Weddings
  Wounds and injuries

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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