The Babylon director believes more movies should spark debate and conversation.
Babylon did not turn out to be the hit much of the world expected. The film’s opening weekend brought in just $3.5 million, a very low number, especially when considering the film’s $80 million budget. The film also has an impressive cast that includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Tobey Maguire, and Jean Smart. Director Damien Chazelle is best known for his work on Whiplash and La La Land, which were both lauded by critics. Babylon, on the other hand, holds just a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Speaking with Insider, Chazelle discussed how he feels about the reception to his latest film:
“I don’t really pay that much attention to that. You know, it’s an interesting thing of, where you make something, and then I do believe that it sort of becomes — once the filmmaker finishes the movie — the audience’s, and that includes the critics, includes everyone. And everyone’s gonna have a different take on the film. And I think they’re all legitimate.” He continued: “It becomes the world’s movie, in a way. That’s why I sort of don’t really believe in — though I’m fine when people do it — filmmakers going back and tinkering after the fact and whatnot. I mean, it’s fine, but I do think at a certain point, a movie represents a moment in time and a moment in history.”
Babylon is set in 1920s Hollywood, as the film industry shifts from silent films to sound. Although the film presents a fictitious cast of characters, Chazelle previously said that he based those characters on combinations of popular stars from the time. Babylon explores the lives of its characters as they struggle with the industry change while showcasing the more extravagant side of the era. Despite its less-than-stellar reviews, the film earned several nominations this awards season, with Pitt and Robbie both up for multiple individual acting awards for their work on the film.
Chazelle, however, does not view the film’s divisiveness as a negative:
“…it’s good to have something that stimulates conversation and debate and a lot of fierce opinions on either side. We all knew the movie was gonna ruffle some feathers and get some people mad, and I think that’s good. More movies should do that,” Chazelle said.
Chazelle’s Babylon is not the only award-nominated film that has “ruffled some feathers”. Andrew Dominik’s Blonde has been called “exploitative,” all while Ana de Armas’ portrayal of a tortured Marilyn Monroe has continued to gain praise.
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