The ending of Babylon may be the most disgusting in the history of cinema

Heading Towards the Worst Ending Ever?: Margot Robbie and Diego Calva in Babylon (Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures)

Heading Towards the Worst Ending Ever?: Margot Robbie and Diego Calva in Babylon (Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures)

You can see that filmmakers are worried about the future of cinema. James Cameron demands that we all try Imax escapism one more time in his three hours Avatar continued. Steven Spielberg Fabelmans offers a fictionalized look at his childhood fascination with the magic of film. And Sam Mendes Empire of Light has Olivia Colman whimsically bursting with the power of the big screen experience – like that viral Nicole Kidman ad, only more honest. But if the ending Babylon whatever one may say, Damien Chazelle is clearly the most worried director of them all.

One more ode to the majesty of the movies Babylon it ends with a nauseating saccharine sequence: a burgeoning Oscar-style montage combining clips from various notable films throughout history. From the silent era to the 21st century it includes everything from Un Chien Andalou and Passion of Joan of Arcdown throne, Terminators 2, Mother and, disturbingly, the first Avatar.

This visual assault on the sequence, which is also interspersed with deplorable shots of celluloid-inducing liquid, has been described as an explosive celebration of cinema. But to me, it’s more like a moving picture equivalent of someone shouting, “MOVIE! MOVIE! ARGHHH I FUCKING LOVE THE MOVIE!” It’s fine if you can appreciate Chazelle’s boldness here, but seeing Na’vi appear in the director’s film Whip and LaLa Land it made me convulse so hard that my ass swallowed itself.

Further context is needed to understand why I reacted so violently. Seemingly, Babylon is a film about the ups and downs of four people working in 1920s Hollywood. There’s big movie star Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) whose grip on fame is waning as the industry moves from silent movies to talkies. There’s Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), a wayward, up-and-coming actress who soon discovers she’s gone. There’s Manny Torres (Diego Calva), a film assistant who’s promoted to studio manager. Then there’s Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo), a talented trumpeter who quickly becomes disillusioned with the industry’s inherent racism.

Through these characters, we’ve been shown the uglier side of Hollywood: the constant change of mediocre movies; the ruthless nature of fame; debauched parties with mountains of cocaine, crowd-guzzling jizz and exploding elephant anuses. Sounds fun, right? Well, yes it is. I am pleased to say that I liked about 74 percent Babylon. At one point I thought it might even be the best movie ever made. But then the end came.

As it turns out, Babylon is basically a depraved tale of the 52s Sing in the rain. In the final scene, when the elder Manny enters the cinema to watch a screening of this very film, he quickly realizes that the traumatic events of his Hollywood career have been reimagined as a musical comedy hosted by Gene Kelly. As Manny understandably begins to cry, the camera pans out and pans across the audience, revealing a sea of ​​faces that look much happier than his. They really like the movie!

The camera then hovers directly above the audience, giving us a bird’s-eye view of the tops of their heads. Or, as we should probably view it, a bird’s eye view of the top of our head. Yes, at this point we are supposed to feel “seen”, as if someone had placed a massive, crooked mirror on the ceiling so you could see yourself committing a heinous act; namely being part of a drone-like audience. the point of it? I’m not entirely sure. Unless it’s to establish the depressing fact that now, more than ever, people need movies to keep them dumb and docile. Avatar 3 by the way, it’s coming out next year.

In any case, this slightly offensive shot is soon followed by the said montage from hell. Colors flash. jazz game. Robert Patrick’s head changes shape. However, before it ends, something miraculous happens: Manny’s tears become tears of joy. Like the rest of the audience turned zombies, he too is having a good time right now Sing in the rain.

According to Chazelle himself, this is supposed to be a moment of self-realization for Manny. “[He’s] reflecting on its place in the larger scheme of things,” said the director Entertainment Weekly. “And its place as a sort of solitary cage in an infinite reel of celluloid that is the history of this art form.” If that sounds a bit pretentious, it’s probably because it is. But the explanation goes on regardless. “Careers come and go, and movie stars come and go. This is very scary on some level and can even be depressing. But on another level, and hopefully this is where Manny finally reaches a place of peace, it’s comforting because you can’t help but be aware of how much bigger he is than you and how you’re part of something bigger. Just being a small part of it is truly unique and eternal in its own way.”

Brad Pitt as Jack Conrad and Diego Calva as Manny Torres (Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures)

Brad Pitt as Jack Conrad and Diego Calva as Manny Torres (Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures)

Based on that interpretation, the final scene seems to imply that it was all worth it for Manny – all those overdosed actors, dead movie extras and lame productions – as long as he could be part of such a great industry. What’s even weirder is that, as part of the audience around him, we’re expected to understand and even share his feelings. Mainly, Babylon invites us to celebrate cinema, even though it has just shown – for no less than three hours and nine minutes – just how cynical, soulless and mediocre it can be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Chazelle. Whip it’s the best jazz drumming movie I’ve ever seen. AND LaLa Land it touched me so much that after its completion, I called my other half and spent two hours telling her how brilliant it was. However Babylon, and especially its ending, just seems misjudged; another homage to Hollywood that gives you more reasons to get high than to cry with happiness.

Like everyone, I like a little escapism. But when the last scene of the movie tries to shove that love down my throat, my natural reaction is to grab the nearest bag of popcorn and generously fill it with nausea.

Babylon in cinemas

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