Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu revealed exclusive details of his latestopus Babel in an interview with Screen from the Morocco set this week.
Although he says it is more challenging structurally than AmoresPerros, it has similar themes of 'love and how we deal with it as humanbeings, while on a microscopic level looking at the complex relationship offathers and sons."
It will be the last in his trilogy of intertwined stories after AmoresPerros and 21 Grams, and follows four separate but only slightly interconnectedstories in three different continents and four different languages over a36-hour time period.
Babel started shooting in Morocco last Monday (May 2) and will continue theretill June 15 with actors Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett playing American touristsand non-actors playing a local shepherd family who awaken their social andpolitical conscience.
Then the production moves to Mexico, close to the US border, to shoot astory revolving around two characters played by his Amores Perros actors GaelGarcia Bernal and Adriana Barraza.
The third story will take place in Japan and centres on a deaf girl, tobe played by an unknown local actress whom Inarritu has discovered, with KojiYakusho (Shall We Dance, Memoirs Of A Geisha) also starring.
Shooting is scheduled to end in Tokyo in mid-Nov. A short passage willalso be set in Los Angeles involving relatives of the Pitt and Blanchettcharacters, although Inarritu will probably shoot the LA section in Mexico.
Languages spoken in thefilm are Arabic, English, Spanish and Japanese. "It's on a global scale, butthe stories are intimate," he says. "Something bigger happened seven yearspreviously which connects all the characters on the precise day we cover in thefilm," he explained. "In some way, this film is about that complex relationshipbetween the east and the west, between the first and the third world visionswith a political and a social commentary."
"It will be very importantto see and hear how people talk in the film," he added. "The film will look atthe barriers created by language. We assume we know what other people wantthrough words and language but we don't. They don't allow us to see through tothe other side and make the otherness more suspicious. The images and music onthe other hand will trigger universal human emotions which will show thatJapanese and Mexicans and Muslims are the same. The experience will be veryinteresting for audiences, I think. It will be 50% visual and 50% about sound."
Inarritu is accompanied onthe film by many of his Amores Perros team includingcinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, production designer Brigitte Broch and composerGustavo Santaolalla, who has already been in Marrakesh working with localmusicians and Inarritu on the score.
All the Spanish-speakers onthe set add to the myriad languages being spoken on the production. "We havebeen having the same problems that some of the characters deal with in thefilm," he said. "The communication hasn't been easy. We are more than 150people from different parts of the world. On the set people speak Arabic,Bereber, French, English, Italian and Spanish."
The film-maker has beenplanning Babel for some years and said he started work on it before 21Grams. "It was immediately after I left my country and went to live in theUnited States with my family," he explained.
"I think that it would havebeen impossible to conceive this concept without having had this consciousnessof an immigrant. From a distance, I have had a better and clearer perspectiveof myself, of my country and of my own work and I have experienced what it wasto be a third world citizen living in a first world country and the complexityof what that signifies. As a western citizen, I have traveled to the east andhave always succumbed to their mysteries. I have only been to Japan three timesbut from the first time my foot hit Tokyo's soil, I knew that one day I wouldhave to return with a camera. In particular, I could never forget thetremendous impact that I had when I visited Morroco when I was 19 years old."
Inarritu has developed adistinct method of preparing and financing his films. On Babel, he and regularscreenwriting collaborator Guillermo Arriaga worked on the screenplay and, whenit was close to being ready, he started scouting locations and casting. Onlythen did he invite producers Jon Kilik and Steve Golin to join him on the filmlast Sept. The script was sent out to a handful of studios early this year anda deal for English-language territories was struck with Paramount, while SummitEntertainment took on international sales for the film-maker and is sellinghere.
"I like to be completelyfree and feel like I am making an independent film," he said. "I work withoutpressure, without a studio telling me what to do or when I have to deliver. Ihave creative control. I consider myself a very lucky bastard."