ThysdrusRoman Coliseum of El-Jem

Panem et Circensis

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Location: Tunis, Tunisia, Tunisia

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Yesterday, I saw "Babel" a new movie directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. All in all, I found the beginning of the movie a bit boring but as the plot unfolds you almost identify yourself with the the actors and the story and you submerge in the three entertiwned stories that take place on three different continents (Africa, America, Asia) wishing if the movie will last for ever!.

Armed with a Winchester rifle, two Morrocan boys set out to look after their family's herd of goats. In the silent echoes of the desert, they decide to test the rifle… but the bullet goes farther than they thought it would.

In an instant, the lives of four separate groups of strangers on three different continents collide. Caught up in the rising tide of an accident that escalates beyond anyone's control are a vacationing American couple (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) a rebellious deaf Japanese teenager and her father, and a Mexican nanny who, without permission, takes two American children across the border. None of these strangers will ever meet; in spite of the sudden, unlikely connection between them, they will all remain isolated due to their own inability to communicate meaningfully with anyone around them.

One observation is related to the story of the American couple's ordeal in a distant small village in the Moroccan desert. As the movie presented the small moroccan village, Tazarine, I was shocked by the level of poverty and squalor there, but nevertheless the director highlighted aspects of hospitality, solidarity and compassion among its inhabitants which the American couple benefitted from contrary to the "individualistic and egotistic" reaction they received from their fellow americans travelling with them on the same bus.

Another observation is that of the reaction of the Moroccan authorities, mainly police, following the shooting of an american tourist.Generally speaking, I understand that this is a very sensitive situation for countries like Morocco when it comes to acts of terrorism on their soil and their deep concern especially if the victim is a foreigner (who happens to be an American citizen here) and the repercussions of such acts on the image of the country itself, but I nevertheless found their treatment of local suspects (men and women) outrageous, exagerated, violent and inhuman. Furthermore, I could not understand how the police arrived quickly to the crime scene and started investigating the incident whereas it took a long time for the US Embassy in Morocco to dispatch a helicopter to rescue the victim and take her to the hospital.

One last observation is how the director presented some of the Moroccan actors and non-actors in this small village and some of the problems they were suffering from and which remain, I guess, subject to further discussion (poverty, lack of education, sexual frustration, drugs...)



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