On December 23, 2022, the premiere of the sensational film “Babylon” was released around the world, which immediately blew up the Internet with its extravagant plot and dynamics. The creator was the Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Damien Chazelle (showrunner of the films Obsession (2014), La La Land (2016), Man in the Moon (2018)), the same young Oscar winner in the Best Director category . The film itself won many worldwide awards such as Best Cinematography, Best Film Music, Best Art Direction and Set Design, and many others. Already in the trailer, it was clear how crazy and crazy the film was going to be.
The fact that director Chazelle is going to shoot a drama about the “golden era” became known back in 2019. Filming was supposed to start in mid-2020, but due to the pandemic, it was postponed for a year. After a while, the roles were established, and initially the female character, the silent film actress of the 20s of the last century Clara Gordon Bow, was supposed to be played by Emma Stone, but she refused due to too busy acting schedule. As a result, the main female role went to the famous Margot Robbie, who starred in the popular world films The Wolf of Wall Street and Suicide Squad.
Brad Pitt also joined the cast, who played the movie actor Jack Conrad (it is rumored that this hero has a historical prototype – John Gilbert, the so-called “Great Lover”, the most famous and highly paid actor of the movie of the last century), Olivia Wilde , who had previously starred in the film House M.D., Tobey Maguire (Charlie Chaplin), Samara Weaving and others. Special attention in the list of actors deserves Li Jun Li, who went down in history as the first Chinese actress to conquer Hollywood. She played Anna May Wong.
Chazelle himself said that Babylon contained the largest number of roles that he had ever met; The casting took a very long time. He had the idea of the film in his head for about 15 years, but decided to implement it relatively recently.
On the set, Damien Chazelle gave a lot of freedom to the main actors, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt, as their characters played a key role in the film. The director noted the performance of the stars as the most personal in their career.
What is Babylon about?
As mentioned above, the events in the film describe the “golden era” in Hollywood (1920/30s), when there are fundamental changes in the film industry. People have the ability to create sound films. Was it worth saying that the world’s silent film stars are suffering from this? They are trying to adapt to these circumstances, find their place in the new world and not completely disappear from the memory of ordinary people.
“Babylon” begins with the events of a grand freak party somewhere in Los Angeles. The abundance of scenery, brightness and dynamics already amaze the audience. It is at this very party that the three main characters will meet: future successful producer Manny Tores (Diego Calva), imagining himself a silent film star Nelly Laroy (Margot Robbie) and popular Hollywood actor Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt). No wonder these characters intersect: they are united by something in common, something that not many people have. Ambition, passion, maniacal craving for art and public recognition. Nelly and Munny are presented to the audience as ambitious people of cinema, who seem to have everything ahead, and Conrad is like a king, struggling to keep the throne in his hands. These heroes constantly find themselves in the same place and at the same time, as if fate itself is trying to tell them something.
In the scenes of the film, everything is interconnected. If you dig deeper, you can find references to historical events associated with real actors. Chazelle masterfully weaves them with Hollywood legends and myths that really existed at that time. In “Babylon” there is not a single random reference, not a single title that means nothing, and not a single anecdote not rooted in history. Throughout the film, the characters – both main and secondary – resemble crazy drunks who open their souls to the whole world. The whole movie is a solid party, and at first glance they may seem interesting, but in reality they are just dull gatherings of people of the world of wealth and luxury, who are drowning in lust and debauchery. Monotonous in all their energy, rhythmically monotonous scenes follow one after another and do not add up to anything,
From beginning to end, we are shown the psychology of each individual character that has at least some value. Take, for example, black trumpeter Sidney Palmer. He plays in an orchestra at Hollywood parties and on film sets, and with the advent of sound films, he becomes a star of short films. In a short screen time, his life was shown in such detail that no one had any questions left.
Perhaps the first thing you should pay attention to before watching the film is the prototypes of the characters. A couple of them have already been mentioned above. The prototype of Jack Conrad is called John Gilbert. He, too, was a Hollywood star in the 1920s, had problems with alcohol and women. And at one point he was also listed as the highest paid MGM star, but with the advent of sound, he could not maintain this status. Of course, there is a difference between them – in the movie “Gilbert” died from a bullet in the temple, and in real life – from alcoholism. The heroine Margot Robbie has several prototypes, but most of all similarities are noted with Clara Bow, “America’s first sex symbol.” She has played several well-known roles in films, including Wings. The bad girl image quickly went out of fashion, as did Clara Bow herself. Several other prototypes of Nelly Laroy suffered from drug addiction and died from it.
Of course, not all the characters in the film have such a sad fate. The protagonist Manny Thores was able to pass the “strength” test. He, although he faces many challenges throughout the film, finds the strength to climb up and stay in the film industry with a small name.
What is the meaning of the movie “Babylon”
The revolution in the film industry turned into a tragedy for the whole life of a single actor who could not accept the new rules of the game. Throughout the film, the audience watched the struggle between the stars and the world of cinema (which acts as a separate developing personality), which mercilessly changed and tested the character of each. Someone emerged victorious from this “war”, and someone remained to collect the fragments of his wounded soul at the very bottom of this world.
The world of cinema is not a carefree life of wealth and eternal travel. This is a bright cover, behind which lies the struggle for survival. This is what Chazelle wanted to achieve – he loves cinema, in love with it, but he cannot turn a blind eye to what everyone has to go through to climb to the top.
Babylon is a film that exalts art over life, turning it into the only and perhaps the most worthy goal of human existence. To the average viewer, the film may seem boring, and this is a completely expected reaction. Illogical narrative, lack of exposition and backstories gave their own. It is fair to say that many critics praised the sets for the film and the whole scale of work for the film adaptation.