AFI Movie Club: BABEL – American Film Institute
Babel Film Still - Brad Pitt


AFI Movie Club: BABEL

BABEL, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s masterful global-ensemble drama, was honored with an AFI AWARD in 2006, recognizing it as one of the 10 outstanding films deemed culturally and artistically significant.

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BABEL – Reelgood

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Movie Trivia About BABEL

DID YOU KNOW? BABEL is the final film in the “Death Trilogy,” the collaboration between director Alejandro González Iñárritu, writer Guillermo Arriaga and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto. The first two installments of the trilogy were AMORES PERROS and 21 GRAMS.

DID YOU KNOW? The production shot in three countries, although the story takes place in four countries. The U.S. scenes were shot in Tijuana, the Mexico scenes were filmed in Tecate and the Sonoran Desert, and Morocco and Tokyo made up the last two filming locations.

DID YOU KNOW? Brad Pitt gave up a starring role in THE DEPARTED to be able to work with Alejandro González Iñárritu on BABEL.

DID YOU KNOW? The filmmakers used several different types of film stock to make each location distinct, including three-perf Super 35mm, 35mm, 18.5 anamorphic and Super 16mm.

DID YOU KNOW? To depict the struggle over communication, the filmmakers used several languages in BABEL – including Berber, English, Spanish, Japanese and sign language.

DID YOU KNOW? Alejandro González Iñárritu brought on two translators in Japan: one to translate from English to Japanese and another to translate from Japanese into sign language for the scenes with the character Chieko, a deaf Japanese teenager.

DID YOU KNOW? Costume designer Michael Wilkinson contributed to the authenticity of the Moroccan scenes by trading newly purchased clothes with villagers for their own clothes to use during the production.

DID YOU KNOW? The film won an Academy Award® for Best Original Score and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress for Adriana Barraza, Best Original Screenplay and Best Achievement in Film Editing. Rinko Kikuchi’s breakthrough performance as Chieko, a deaf teenager, garnered her an Oscar® nomination – the first for a Japanese actress in almost 50 years.

DID YOU KNOW? Iñárritu received a DGA Feature Film Award nomination for BABEL, the first for a Mexican director in the Guild’s history.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-How does BABEL represent the globalization of cinema? How does BABEL cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto capture the four different landscapes and cultures? How does each place differ from one another?

-Why is the film called BABEL?

-How is the biblical reference to the Tower of Babel factor used to discuss cultural barriers and connection?

-In what way is the film’s structure like a mosaic? What effect does the multi-protagonist lens have?

-Why do Susan and Richard end up staying in a Moroccan village? What is the reason they are travelling? After Susan is shot, why does everyone assume she was shot by a terrorist? What is the ripple effect of this misunderstanding?

-Why does Amelia choose to take the American children she is nannying with her to Mexico? What circumstances force her to make this decision and what does the film hope to convey about immigration?

-What did you think of Rinko Kikuchi’s performance as Chieko? How does BABEL show the audience how she experiences the world as a deaf teenager?

-How are the four multi-narrative storylines ultimately intertwined at the end?

-What is your favorite Alejandro González Iñárritu film and why?

-How would you rate BABEL?

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AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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Comments (1)


How have I never seen this! Stunning filmmaking.
Mortality, fate, communication, politics, sociology all wrapped up in a visceral nail-biter of a story buoyed by perfect performances.

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