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Babel Eurotrip Until the End of the World

          In the evening in Luang Prabang I watched “Babel” at the hostel’s “movie room”. If I am not mistaken, the movie even won an Oscar (starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett). The plot is a mix of several stories unfolding simultaneously in Morocco, US, Mexico and Japan. As I was headed for Japan myself (eventually), I paid extra attention to the movie’s Japanese part to petty things one normally does not pay attention to – like the tables and chairs inside bars, the street signs, the little details on the buildings, etc.

           “Babel” had me thinking about films whose plots unfolded in several countries and I came up with two more: “Eurotrip” and “Till the End of the World” by Wim Wenders. Putting these three side by side seems to make little sense – a hilarious but dumb teenage comedy, a true modern classic of European cinema and an US-major-disguised-as-independent…  but they did have something in common in the way national stereotypes were used in their plots – each in its own right, of course.
To make my point clear an old joke comes handy: “Heaven is where the French are the chefs, the Italians are the lovers, the British are the police, the Germans are the mechanics, and the Swiss make everything run on time. Hell is where: the British are the chefs, the Swiss are the lovers, the French are the mechanics, the Italians make everything run on time, and the Germans are the police.”  With that in mind, let’s dissect the three movies.

Babel (2006)  is about
an American family struggling with marriage
a Japanese emo teenage girl and some weird Japanese story (with underage nudity)
a Moroccan goat herder + careless shooting and police brutality
a Mexican nanny in the US (+ a US/Mexican border story)

EuroTrip (2004)  is about
 Football hooligans (from England)
Debauchery and marijuana (in the Netherlands)
Poverty and cheap drinks (in Slovakia – a proxy for all Eastern Europe)
A German truck driver who… oh, well…nevermind
And in the Vatican…nevermind that too…

Until the End of the World (1991) is about
The movie was shot in 1991 but the actual story takes place in 1999 – which gives it a kind of sci-fi touch. Director Wim Wenders (being a true master) was not just playing with stereotypes – he was projecting those in the future. Italian gangsters, African traditional singing, Japanese box hotels and pachinko slots, Australian aboriginals – and – in line with the movie futuristic touch – Indian nuclear satellite and Russian military computer search bot – appearing as a talking 3D bear.

Babel (Movie) - starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett EuroTrip movie - teenage comedy Until The End of the World, Director Wim Wenders

No stereotypes were harmed while shooting in these movies.

           But when will we see a movie about an American nanny in Mexico, a Japanese goat herder, a Moroccan family struggling with marriage, and a Mexican emo teen girl?

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