DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read The Exile's film review of Babel

The print and sound are all you could want from such a recent film but DVD buffs used to receiving a plethora of extras – good and bad – on ‘collector’s editions’ will be surprised to learn that the double-disc set of Babel, contains just one, in addition to the usual host of trailers.

Thankfully, however, Common Ground: In Construction Notes is a particularly solid Making of documentary. Weighing in at 90 minutes, it offers an insight into the film-making process, in particular shedding light on the difficulties and joys of communication between cultures – neatly mirroring one of the themes of the film itself.

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Alejandro González Iñárritu occasionally dips into worthiness when he’s talking to the camera. As one of his own crew points out part way through the film: “With Alejandro, it all becomes more intense.”

If you can get past his tendency to get preachy about the issue of communication in the modern world – and his desire to lecture kids on the origins of the Tower of Babel, poor things – this is a very energetic and entertaining watch. Reassuringly, Iñárritu is very self-aware (“sometimes I torture my actors with my own obsessions”) and is certainly very clear about what he wants the film to achieve.

The most engaging aspect of the Carlos Arnella and Pedro González-Rubio’s documentary, however, is that it is right in the thick of the production, capturing the thoughts of the adults and children on the set in between – and occasionally during – takes and placing an emphasis on the ‘non-actors’ rather than the usual luvvie fest that we’ve come to know and dread. We see Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt in action, but they never talk to the camera – and this naturalism pays off in terms of adding something to our understanding of shooting the film. While not a five-star release, it is definitely worth paying the additional £2 for the bulked out edition.

Reviewed on: 23 May 2007
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Babel packshot
Modern melodrama, tracing four interlocking stories across three continents.
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Product Code: PHE9182

Region: 2

Ratio: 1:1.85

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Trailers, theatrical trailer, Common Ground: In Construction Notes

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