Babylon - drama, comedy, history
Hollywood, late 1920s. Silent movie stars are trying to find a place in the new world where talkies are gaining popularity. The successful career of old idols is inexorably coming to a close.
In the summer of 2019, Damien Chazelle showed the script to major film studios. They immediately noted the quality of the script and the potential of the future film, but according to some sources, the studio management was confused by the estimated budget of the project - about 80-100 million dollars. Chazelle spent some time rewriting the script to reduce the budget.
Initially, Emma Stone was approved for the role of the main character, and her character was written off from the actress Clara Bow (1905-1965), but due to the covid pandemic, there were delays in the work on the film, and due to the busy schedule, Stone had to leave the project. She was replaced by Margot Robbie, and the role was rewritten and began to embody a collective image.
Director Damien Chazelle once mentioned that there is a version of the film filmed entirely on a phone in his backyard with all the roles played by himself, his wife and Diego Calva Hernandez. This was filmed during a break in filming due to covid restrictions.
The new work of Damien Chazelle has already been sentenced, declaring "Babylon" a historical failure.
At the beginning of the story, we are introduced to three main characters: the Mexican Manny, who dreams of a film set, the self-imagining star Nelly LaRoy, and the aging hero of the movie screens, Jack Conrad. There are also several important secondary characters that are needed to set off the plot twists and turns associated with the main trinity.
On the one hand, we are shown the dirty and depraved side of Hollywood, where cocaine is sniffed by the kilos, naked bodies copulate in the most intricate positions, and wives are changed more often than handkerchiefs. On the other hand, we are shown magic in its purest form, when an outright madhouse during filming in an unknown way turns into a masterpiece on the screen. And with the third - we are dealing with a free adaptation of the famous cartoon "Film, Film, Film", in which the same nervous director yells in a frenzy when he has to shoot the eleventh take.
The stories of all three converge, then diverge, throwing each to the heights and overthrowing to the very bottom. It seems to be three hours of inspired vaudeville about the world of cinema, which not every viewer is able to withstand, because the genres are intertwined and jump at a speed much higher than any film.
But if you add one element to the overall concept, then everything falls into place. The fact is that cinema is also a character here. And he has his own relationships with each of the characters, which develop literally according to all the laws of dramaturgy.
Manny's story in three acts: 1. An unknown boy declares his dream and gets a chance to fulfill it, which he uses to the fullest. Thus, the acquaintance of the Mexican and cinema took place. 2. The successful producer decides who stays and who leaves the new sound film. Here, the cinema accepted Manny with open arms and plunged into the novel with his head. 3. The expected outcome, when the world of cinema has completely exhausted itself for Manny. It can be said that the Mexican and cinema parted as friends.
The story of Nelly in three acts: 1. An unknown girl declares her dream and gets a chance to fulfill it, which she uses to the fullest. 2. A sense of proportion brings the girl down, which quickly destroys her career, although there was a chance to take off for real. 3. The expected result, when the path to the cinema for Nelly was forever closed.
The story of Jack in three acts: 1. A favorite of the public, a movie star and a womanizer is looking for a new form of interaction with the audience. 2. The advent of sound cinema, that very new form, completely breaks Jack's career, throwing him on the coast, like a merciless ocean wave. 3. The expected end, when Jack was left only to act in third-rate films that had nothing to do with art.
Each of this trinity was tested by the cinema for strength, and only Manny completely coped with the test, although he suffered heavy losses. The final episode, with cuts of films from the very first to the latest like The Matrix and Avatar, is not at all an ode to technological progress. These shots were specially cut mixed with splashes of paint dissolved in water to convey a simple idea: behind every film, behind every milestone of amazing art, there are people. Moreover, people are completely different - someone copes with the trials, and someone forever remains overboard, having drank their share of fame.
“Babylon”, which began almost as a teenage rebellion, became more serious by the last third, like a child who began to realize himself and the consequences of his actions. We literally looked at the development of cinema as a single individual - sometimes stupid, sometimes selfish, from which other people suffer, but which remains invariably beautiful in its magnetism.
With this work, Damien Chazelle confessed his love for cinema. And everyone who was able to watch “Babylon” with a smile also confessed their love for the movie. Because this film is made about filmmakers for filmmakers, and you need to be a creator in your soul to feel all the facets of the plot.
To the average viewer, the film seemed boring, and this is a completely expected reaction. There is uneven narrative here, there are no really large-scale and truly iconic scenes, but there is a final shot with a man laughing through tears - the most accurate expression of what cinema is all about.