Dr. Santas’ Study Questions for Babel

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Dr. Santas’ Study Questions for


(Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu, 2006)

Things to look for:

  • Connection to Matrix, Crash, and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

  • Allusion to the Old Testament story of Babel.

  • How ethnic and nationalistic constructed identities and their attendant reasoning drives people’s/nation’s conduct and conflicts

  • Sexuality, sexual identity and confusion in some of the film’s characters


  1. Why does everyone assume Susan was shot by a terrorist? Why does the event so quickly become a political one?

  2. Compare the preoccupation with revenge, retribution, and righteousness to the selfless giving of care, compassion and concern. Show examples from each of the settings in the film.

  3. Why were the tourists so fearful for their lives in the Moroccan village? What dangers did they face? What did they really want to learn about Morocco, and what could they have learned had they stayed in the village?

  4. Compare the sexuality and sexual identities of Yussef, the goat-herder Moroccan boy, Chieko, the deaf/mute Japanese girl, and Amelia, the middle-aged Mexican woman. Why are these aspects of them depicted together in juxtaposition?

  5. Compare the western tourists and their indignation at their inconvenience to the actions of the villagers. Why were they—without hesitation—so helpful to someone they didn’t even know? Why wouldn’t the guide take any money for all he did?

  6. At the end of the film Amelia is told that she is to be deported because of her conduct. When she insists on knowing the children are okay, the US official proclaims “It’s none of your business…They are not your children.” Is he right? Compare Amelia’s care to that of Maria (the DA’s housekeeper in Crash)

  7. Comment on the inabilities of the characters in the film to communicate. Make a list of the various types. Why are they so confused? What do you think the story is telling us here, keeping in mind the story of Babel?

  8. Find a world map and draw lines connecting the countries and peoples involved in this one incident. Why is a story about global connections told in this way, disjointed in both time and space?

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