Jump to: Spoilers (3)
The scene where Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) and her father are in the car together was shot without filming permission from the city due to slow Japanese bureaucratic procedures. The crew created "man-made" busy traffic, and began shooting the scene. Later the police started chasing them while still shooting the scene.
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17 days before shooting was to commence in Morocco, none of the characters had been cast. The production crew made an announcement in the nearest town via television and radio and in the mosques that actors were needed. Within the next 24 hours, over 200 people showed up hoping to participate. Almost all of them are in the final cut of the film, both as principal characters and as extras.
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Brad Pitt gave up one of the starring roles in The Departed (2006) (a film he co-produced) in order to participate in this film, as he's a longtime fan of Alejandro G. Iñárritu's films.
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Almost all of the film, even the driving scenes, was shot using a hand-held camera.
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Since each story was filmed at different times and on different continents, some of the cast members never met their counterparts until the film's premiere.
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Rinko Kikuchi went through a year-long audition process before finally gaining the role of Chieko.
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The shallow depth of field in Chieko's sequences is a nod to the photography of Mona Kuhn. Most of Kuhn's photos have shallow focus, a concept used by the filmmakers to emphasize Chieko's deafness and isolation.
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Boubker Ait El Caid was cast as Yussef, the young Moroccan boy who mishandles the rifle, after director Alejandro G. Iñárritu saw him playing soccer in the local town plaza.
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Director of photography Rodrigo Prieto encountered a problem while filming a track shot where Richard and the villagers carry the wounded Susan to the top of a steep hill: he tried running backwards to get the shot, but each time he tripped, often falling. However, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu ruled out using a Steadicam and insisted on hand-held camera work. Finally, key grip Joseph Dianda came up with a solution: Prieto filmed the shot while seated in a hotel chair carried by four grips. The resulting footage became known to crew members as "The Joey Chair Shot".
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Alejandro G. Iñárritu and his writer Guillermo Arriaga had a big falling out over credit for the film. This stemmed mainly over credit of authorship over their previous film "21 Grams". Arriaga argued that cinema is a collaborative medium and that both he and Inarritu should have shared credit over the entire project, whereas Inarritu was claiming sole credit. As a result, Inarritu banned Arriaga from attending the 2006 Cannes Film Festival to great criticism from his peers.
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Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett later would play a couple again in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Both films were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.
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Actress Adriana Barraza gained 35 pounds for her role as Amelia.
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Cate Blanchett thought about turning down the role because she was going to spend most of her shooting time laying on the floor, she ended up agreeing because she wanted to work with Alejandro González Iñárritu.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Inarritu refers to the three stories of parents and sons in "Babel" as a trilogy.
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Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were originally slated to appear as a couple in 2002 in Darren Aronofsky's film The Fountain (2006). However, after creative differences with Aronofsky, Pitt dropped out to appear in Troy (2004) and the film was shut down. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz were later cast instead.
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Because the nature of the movie, being filmed in several countries, the shooting took a major part of 2005.
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The first production from Paramount Vantage, the former name of Paramount Classics.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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The date the film is set is November 10, 2005, as shown on Chieko's cell phone when she gets the text from her father reminding her of her dentist appointment. (Japan uses the year/month/date format)
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Actress Adriana Barraza, in real life, has had a long history of heart problems including two minor heart attacks. Despite this, she still insisted on carrying co-star Elle Fanning around in the desert for the two days of filming of Amelia walking in the desert with Mike and Debbie.
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Only Richard and Susan's segment was shot on 16 mm film; the rest of the movie was shot on 35 mm. In the scene where the helicopter finally arrives at the village, there is a slight pause as the 35 mm format kicks in.
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The color red is prominently seen in all four segments of the film. For example, Yussef, the Moroccan boy who accidentally shoots Susan, wears a red jacket that says "Morocco" on the back, while Amelia wears an elaborate red dress, causing her to stand out; Chieko frequently uses a red pen to write notes to people who can't understand sign language, and the seats on Richard and Susan's bus are red.
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