1. Marina Hassapopoulou quotes from several interviews in which González Iñárritu claims that he did not want to emphasize a political agenda in the film, but rather focus on human interactions (see Hassapopoulou 12).
2. See also Baer and Long.
3. According to “Babel,” boxofficemojo.com, (accessed May 5, 2009).
4. Chuck Kleinhans recently published an article in Jump Cut on the “creative industries” in the current recession. While he shows that the term “culture industries” is only really used in academic circles anymore, he argues that as capitalist commodities, cultural products are imbricated in the point of capitalism (“expanding and maximizing capital itself”); moreover, the
5. This is one of the two fatal flaws of the film, according to Mexican filmmaker, José Luis Pardo. In an interview with the author in Tijuana, MX in May 2011, Sr. Pardo argued that it was unconscionable for González Iñárritu to suggest that someone from the border would drive through the barricades in the way Santiago does.
6. The paradoxes and xenophobia of this term further emphasizes the complications between territories and national categories. Thought it probably doesn’t need a definition, here it means that Amelia is a Mexican citizen living and working in the US without permission.
7. The film’s tagline is: “If you want to be understood, listen.” [return to page 3]
8. Shaw suggests this scene evinces the director’s optimism about worldwide collaboration (20).
9. Shaw chronicles this especially well. [return to page 4]
10. Like O’Boyle, Perla Ciuk suggests that the success of films like Y tu mamá también and Amores perros “has done a lot to raise international awareness of Mexican cinema.” Again, it is important to keep questioning what these authors are referring to in talking about “Mexican cinema.” Ciuk goes on to quote Cuarón and suggest that he “cites a different factor” to understand the success of these films:
Here is another definition of what is special about Mexican cinema that makes it globally successful even in being locally grounded. The implication of the way Mexican films depict reality and make contact with the public implies, even though vaguely, a not-only Mexican audience and an attempt to move beyond the normal limitations set on film — as affected by globalization forces through increasingly permeable borders for commodities, faster technology, and media.
11. For example, Cuarón directed the 2004 installment of the Harry Potter series(Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), which Jeffrey Menne asserts,
12. Dolores Tierney also situates the Hollywood films in a Mexican national cinema.
13. In fact, it is precisely this type of statement about Mexico’s need to modernize or inability to modernize on its own that echoes the NAFTA negotiations and justification. The lack of the acknowledgement that Mexico has modernized, or the emphasis on the pre-Colonial tradition is similar to arguments made by Jaime Serra Puche and Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, and even President Carlos Salinas about the importance of NAFTA in Mexico’s modernization process. On the other hand, and somewhat paradoxically, in conversations about the vitality of Mexican culture these same politicians and even author Carlos Fuentes suggest that because Mexican culture is so old, there is no way that a culture as young as U.S. culture can trample it. Again, the basic, and fallacious, assumption is that Mexican culture has essentially remained constant and committed to the ideas of pre-Colombian times, even in the face of acknowledged hybridization.
14. This aesthetic of unity, in the face of emphasizing difference (even if only technologically) resonates with Hardt and Negri discussion in Empire of globalization’s creation of a “regime of production of identity and difference,” which encourages difference and the multiplicity of products, but may actually create false desire.
15. I interviewed film workers in Tijuana, Mexico in May 2011. Without exception, they expressed dislike for Babel because of the stereotypical Mexican wedding scene. It should be noted that they disliked the scene even more because it came from a Mexican creative staff. Their focus on the director’s nationality also indicates that even though we are talking more and more about global commodities, we are still forced to think about national labels.
Babel. Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu. 2006. Paramount MX/FR/US
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