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).
[return to page 1]

2. See also Baer and Long.

3. According to “Babel,” boxofficemojo.com, (accessed May 5, 2009).
The estimated budget comes from “Babel,” Internet Movie DataBase, (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

“larger forces of neoliberalism, such as speedup and outsourcing even ‘creative’ work overseas, are more decisive in shaping the actual creative work climate and the possibilities that individual face as employees than the wispy utopianism of turning on the creative faucet to get a stream of new jobs, opportunities, and adventures” (3).

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:

“‘Mexican movies accept reality, embrace and express it, and the contact they make with the public is harsh’” (Ciuk).

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,

  • “allowed him to faintly stamp this global product with Mexican culture as well as gain production leverage for future enterprises” (87); further,
  • “much was made in the Harry Potter chatrooms of Cuarón’s inclusion of Day of the Dead sugar skeletons and the eagle and serpent of the Mexican flag as incidental props, as though he had signed the film with his heritage” (Menne 92, endnote 62).

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.

Works cited

Babel. Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu. 2006. Paramount MX/FR/US

Babel.” boxofficemojo.com, (accessed May 5, 2009).

Babel,” Internet Movie DataBase, (accessed May 5, 2009).

Baer, Hester and Ryan Long. “Transnational Cinema and the Mexican State in Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Y tu mamá también.” South Central Review [Special Issue: Memory and Nation in Contemporary Mexico, Eds. Ryan Long and José Villalobos] 21.3 (Fall 2004): 150–168.

Beale, Alison. “Identifying a Policy Hierarchy: Communication Policy, Media Industries, and Globalization” in Global Culture. Eds. Diana Crane, Nobuko Kawashima, and Ken'ichi Kawasaki. New York: Routledge, 2002. 78–89.

Bordwell, David. “Lessons from Babel.” David Bordwell's Website on Cinema. posted November 27, 2006. (accessed 13 October 2010)

Bosley, Rachael K. “Forging Connections: A Shot Fired in Africa Echoes around the World in Babel, Photographed by Rodrigo Prieto, ASC, AMC.” American Cinematographer 87.11 (November 2006): 36–49. (accessed Oct 19 2010).

Bradshaw, Peter. “Babel.” The Guardian. 19 Jan 2007. Accessed 12/29/2011. http://m.guardian.co.uk/film/2007/jan/

Dermansky, Marcy. “Babel - A film by Alejandro González Iñárritu.” About.com. 2007. Accessed 12/22/2011.

Ciuk, Perla. “Hollywood Stakes Out a New Free Trade Zone.” New York Times. February 20, 2005. Accessed 1/2/2012.

García Canclini, Néstor. Consumers and Citizens: Globalization and Multicultural Conflicts. Trans. George Yúdice. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2001.

---. Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity. Trans. Christopher Chiappari and Silvia L. López. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 1995.

Goodenough, Oliver R. “Defending the Imaginary to the Death? Free Trade, National Identity, and Canada’s Cultural Preoccupation.” Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law 15 (Winter 2008): 203–254.

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000. Print.

Hassapopoulou, Marina. “Babel: Pushing and Reaffirming Mainstream Cinema’s Boundaries.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 50 (2008 Spring): no pagination. Accessed 21 July 2011.

Kleinhans, Chuck. “‘Creative Industries,’ Neoliberal Fantasies, and the Cold, Hard Facts of Global Recession: Some Basic Lessons.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 53 (Winter 2011): no pagination. Accessed 12/29/2012.

Manning, Caitlin and Julie Shackford-Bradley.Global Subjects in Motion: Strategies for Representing Globalization in Film.” Journal of Film and Video 62.3 (Fall 2010): 36–52. Project Muse 10/7/10.

Menne, Jeff. “A Mexican Nouvelle Vague: The Logic of New Waves under Globalization.” Cinema Journal 47.1 (Fall 2007): 70–92.

Michael, David. “Babel: Alejandro González Iñárritu Interview.” SBS Film. 22 May 2009. Accessed 12/23/2011.

Miller, Toby, et al. Global Hollywood 2. London: British Film Institute, 2005.

Noble, Andrea. Mexican National Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Nye, Joseph S. “Limits of American Power.” Political Science Quarterly 117, no. 4 (Winter 2002–3): 545–559.

O’Boyle, Michael.  “Mexican Biz on Notice.” Variety 406.2 (26 Feb. 2007): Arts Module, ProQuest. Web.  6 Apr. 2010.

Pellicer, Juan. “Bridging Worlds: Transtextuality, Montage, and the Poetics of Babel.” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 26.2 (Summer 2010): 239–249.

Saldaña-Portillo, María Josefina. “In the Shadow of NAFTA: ‘Y tu mamá también’ Revisits the National Allegory of Mexican Sovereignty.” American Quarterly 57. 3 (Sep. 2005): 751–77.

Scott, A. O. “Us and Them; What is a Foreign Movie Now?” New York Times Magazine 14 November 2004 P86. (accessed at NYtimes.com 29 October 2010).

Shaw, Deborah. “Babel and the Global Hollywood Gaze.” Situations, 4.1, 2011.
. Accessed 12/15/2011.

Stratton, David. “At the Movies: Babel Interview.” ABC Australia Online. 2006. Accessed 12/29/2011.

Tierney, Dolores. “Alejandro González Iñárritu: Director without Borders.” New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film vol. 7 no 2 (2009): 101–117.

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