A discussion about the motif of Babel

Some critics prefer to use the word “alienation” to illustrate the globalization trend,  but for me, I intend to say “estrangement” in the film, Babel.

 Babel is a representative example of “time-space compression” to approach transnational exchange and global simultaneity, following the above narrative structure, from the estrangement to the integration: In Morocco, Richard and Susan understand each other finally, while Moroccan brothers realize how to cherish the happy time together with the expense of the older brother’s death; After experiencing extreme rebellion, the Japanese deaf girl gets the understanding and embrace by her father; Mexican nanny, although fails to integrate into the United States where she has been living for more than a decade, gets love from her son. In this way, this film constructs 3 different relationships which could be summarized as individual and individual, individual and social, and social and social, to depict the theme.

So far the misunderstanding existed in these three groups is still continuing in the world, although globalization is destined to make the “global village” become smaller and closer, and provides more opportunities for various nationalities to contact. However, the frequent communications and cooperations can not eliminate the estrangement entirely, how to break the misunderstanding, pull down the wall standing between the different countries to reconstruction “Babel”, is the key appeal of this film.


Eriksen, T.H. (2007).Globalization: The Key Concepts. Oxford, New York: Berg.




One thought on “A discussion about the motif of Babel

  1. Some interesting thoughts here about the tensions in globalization; some critics would tend to use alienation rather than estrangement, but in a way estrangement seems quite applicable to Babel. I agree that the film presents initial cross cultural misunderstandings, but I’m not sure in every case they lead to integration; in some of the threads they seem to point to unsolvable problems that cannot be resolved in a fully satisfactory way



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