From the very opening scene of Damien Chazelle's Babylon, the audience is put into a position where they have to decide what they are willing to go through with these characters. While the movie is challenging at times, it is uproarious as well, with cheering moments and laugh-out-loud segments.
Right now, it stands at 55% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it quite a divisive film. Our staff was split down the middle on it, and it caused some really fun conversations in my group chat. That seems to be the way Chazelle likes it.
In an interview with Insider, Chazelle said, “It’s good to have something that stimulates conversation and debate and a lot of fierce opinions on either side. We all knew the movie was gonna ruffle some feathers and get some people mad, and I think that’s good. More movies should do that.”
I think it is a great point. We have a lot of movies that come out every year which are desperate to be crowd-pleasers. While that might satisfy the commerce side of the business, I think the art should matter a lot more.
Babylon might not be your cup of tea (or of elephant shit) but it is bold, brash, and is trying something. We don't get that many titles a year that do that. That truly swing for the fences and demand your attention.
Whether they get embraced it or not is left up to the people. But the art is undeniable.
If you are a beginning filmmaker, it might be a good idea to do something noisy like this — not only can it bring attention, but I think celebrating what makes you unique is the only thing that can make you stand out in an already cluttered world.
“It’s an interesting thing of, where you make something, and then I do believe that it sort of becomes — once the filmmaker finishes the movie — the audience’s, and that includes the critics, includes everyone. And everyone’s gonna have a different take on the film," Chazelle said in the same interview. "And I think they’re all legitimate. It becomes the world’s movie, in a way. That’s why I sort of don’t really believe in — though I’m fine when people do it — filmmakers going back and tinkering after the fact and whatnot. I mean, it’s fine, but I do think at a certain point, a movie represents a moment in time and a moment in history.”
Babylon is definitely the world's movie now. Everyone has a take or a critique or praise. But it's out there, and it made us think and experience something not down the center and safe, but outlandish and, at times, vulgar.
Let us know what you think in the comments.