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!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • 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.