Babylon ending: is it the most nauseating final scene in cinema history?

Babylon ending: is it the most nauseating final scene in cinema history?

Babylon ending: is it the most nauseating final scene in cinema history?

yyou can tell that filmmakers are concerned about the future of cinema. James Cameron is demanding that we all give Imax escapism another chance in his three hours avatar sequel. by Steven Spielberg The Fabelmans is offering a fictionalized look at his childhood fascination with movie magic. And that of Sam Mendes empire of light it has Olivia Colman gushing whimsically about the power of the big screen experience — like that viral Nicole Kidman ad, only more heartfelt. But if the end of Babylon be that as it may, Damien Chazelle is clearly the most concerned director of all.

Yet another ode to the majesty of cinema, Babylon it concludes with a nauseatingly saccharine sequence: an Oscar-style flourish montage, piecing together clips from various notable films throughout history. Spanning from the silent era to the 21st century, it features everything from A Chien Andalou and The Passion of Joan of Arcfor tron, Terminator 2, The Matrix and, disturbingly, the first avatar.

This visual onslaught of a sequence, which is also interspersed with haunting shots of celluloid developer liquid, has been described as an explosive celebration of cinema. To me though, it looks more like the motion picture equivalent of someone yelling, “FILM! FILM! ARGHHH I LOVE MOVIES! It’s okay if you can appreciate Chazelle’s chutzpah here, but seeing a Na’vi appear in a film by the director of Whip and La La Land made me convulse so hard my ass actually swallowed.

To understand why I had such a violent reaction, more context is needed. Ostensibly, Babylon is a film about the ups and downs of four individuals working in 1920s Hollywood. There’s movie megastar Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), whose grip on fame is waning as the industry makes the transition from silent films to the spoken. There’s Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), an erratic, up-and-coming actress who soon finds herself lost. There’s Manny Torres (Diego Calva), a movie assistant working to become a studio executive. And then there’s Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo), a gifted trumpeter who quickly becomes disillusioned with the industry’s inherent racism.

Through these characters, we see the ugliest side of Hollywood: the relentless hustle and bustle of mediocre movies; the cruel nature of fame; the debauched parties with mountains of cocaine, crowd cum and exploding elephant anuses. Sounds like fun, right? Well and. I am pleased to say that I enjoyed approximately 74 percent of the Babylon. At one point I thought it might even be the best movie ever made. But then came that ending.

turns out that Babylon is basically a depraved retelling of 1952 Singing in the Rain. In the final scene, when an older Manny walks into a theater to see a showing of that same film, he soon realizes that the traumatic events of his Hollywood career have been reimagined as a Gene Kelly-led musical comedy. When Manny understandably breaks down in tears, the camera pulls back and sweeps across the audience, revealing a sea of ​​faces that look significantly happier than his own. They are really enjoying the movie!

The camera hovers directly above the audience, giving us a bird’s eye view of the tops of their heads. Or, as we’re probably supposed to perceive it, a bird’s-eye view from the top of our own heads. Yes, at this moment we must feel “seen”, as if someone had placed a huge and perverted mirror in the ceiling so that you could see yourself committing a shameful act; that is, being part of a drone-like audience. The point of it? I am not sure. Unless to establish the depressing fact that now, more than ever, people need movies to keep themselves giddy and docile. avatar 3 comes out next year, by the way.

Anyway, this mildly offensive scene is soon followed by the aforementioned hell movie montage. Colors flash. Jazz pieces. Robert Patrick’s head reshapes itself. When it’s over, however, something wonderful happens: Manny’s tears become tears of joy. Like the rest of the zombified audience, he too is enjoying Singing in the Rain.

According to Chazelle himself, this is a moment of self-realization for Manny. “[He’s] reflecting on their place in the larger scheme of things,” said director weekly entertainment. “And its place as, in some ways, a lone frame in the endless coil of celluloid that is the history of this art form.” If that sounds a little pretentious, that’s probably because it is. But the explanation continues regardless. “Careers come and go, and movie stars come and go. This, on some level, is very scary and can even be depressing. But on another level, and this is hopefully where Manny comes to a place of peace in the end, it’s comforting, because you can’t help but be aware of how much bigger than you are, and how you are part of something bigger. Just being a small part of it is, in its own way, really special and eternal.”

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Brad Pitt as Jack Conrad and Diego Calva as Manny Torres

(Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures)

Based on this interpretation, what the final scene seems to suggest is that it was all worth it for Manny – all those overdosed actors, dead movie extras and subpar productions – as long as he was part of such a wonderful industry. Stranger still, as part of the public around him, we are expected to understand and even share his feelings. Essentially, Babylon asks us to celebrate cinema even if it only demonstrates – for three hours and nine minutes, no less – how cynical, soulless and mediocre it can be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Chazelle fan. Whip it’s the best movie about jazz drumming I’ve ever seen. AND La La Land it moved me so much that after it ended I called my other half and talked to her for two hours about how brilliant it was. But Babylon, and especially its ending, feels totally misinterpreted; yet another self-satisfied homage to Hollywood that gives you more reason to puke than cry with happiness.

Like everyone else, I love a little escapism. But when a movie’s final scene tries to force that love down our throats, my natural reaction is to grab the nearest bag of popcorn and generously stuff it sick.

‘Babylon’ is in theaters

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