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‘Babylon’ Director Damien Chazelle Says He Knew Film Would “Get Some People Mad”

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Damien Chazelle says he appreciates when a film is met with a polarizing reception, which certainly describes the critical reaction to his most recent effort, Babylon.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker spoke to Insider for an interview published online Monday ahead of the film’s UK release, and he was asked how he felt about the film currently holding a 55 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Babylon focuses on Hollywood’s transition from silent film to the sound era in the 1920s, and its cast includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva and Jean Smart.

“Once the filmmaker finishes the movie, then it sort of becomes the audience’s, and that includes the critics, includes everyone,” Chazelle replied. “And everyone’s gonna have a different take on the film, and I think they’re all legitimate. Then it becomes the world’s movie, in a way.”

He explained that, although he doesn’t have a problem when filmmakers tinker with their movies after the release, he personally doesn’t believe in doing that. “It’s fine, but I do think at a certain point, a movie represents a moment in time and a moment in history,” the First Man director said. “You finish the film, you send it off and then I think it’s time to really move on at some level, other than the talking about it that one needs to do to promote it.”

Chazelle continued, “But 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.”

There’s no doubt that the film has stirred debate, particularly in light of its bombing at the box office with less than $15 million to date. In his review for The News84Mediachief film critic David Rooney opined that Babylon “Feels like overworked pastiche.” He also wrote, “No doubt plenty of cool kids will eagerly sign up to be pummeled by the film’s crazed excesses, though just as many will find it exhausting and sour. Even its technical virtuosity feels assaultive.”

The film has remained a part of the awards-season conversation, having been nominated for five Golden Globes, including a win for best score. Babylon also received nine nominations for Sunday’s Critics Choice Awards, with its lone win coming for best production design.



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