Finding Harmony

By Beth Schwartzapfel

Published November 03, 2006, issue of November 03, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Those who went to synagogue Saturday morning and then to the movies Saturday night may have experienced a little bit of déjà vu. The section of the Torah read in synagogues last week included Genesis 11:1-9, the story of the Tower of Babel, and among the movies that hit theaters last Friday was “Babel,” the new film by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu.

In the Torah portion, residents of the land of Shinar (in modern-day Iraq) work together to build a tower “with its top in the sky.” Dismayed by their hubris, God prompts the builders to start speaking a multiplicity of languages, rendering communication impossible and grinding construction to a halt. In the film, an American man vacationing in Morocco is in a desperate race to save the life of his injured wife. Parallel storylines and characters in Mexico and Japan are woven into the action, resulting in a fast-paced back-and-forth set in four countries and seven languages.

The film, which stars Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt, is the third of Iñárritu’s full-length features to be released in the United States, after “Amores Perros” (2000) and “21 Grams” (2003). It earned him the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival. Executives at Paramount Vantage, which released the film, say that it evokes the major themes of the biblical story of Babel — namely “the mistaken identities, misunderstandings, and missed chances for communication that, though often unseen, drive our contemporary lives,” according to the studio’s production notes. As for the timing of the film’s release, “it was a coincidence,” a studio spokesperson said.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.