Babylon review: “Damien Chazelle’s immersive vision of Hollywood’s golden era”

You might know the joke about the man in a bar who, when asked why he’s glum, reveals he spends his days sweeping elephant poop up at the circus. “Quit!” he is told. “And leave show business?” he replies.

One wonders if writer/director Damien Chazelle had that old gag in mind while filming a scene near the start of Babylon, where a poor lackey pushing a truck up a hill gets showered in pachyderm faeces. It’s a sequence that serves as a pungent visual metaphor for the film’s scabrous depiction of a ’20s Hollywood where the lowly quite literally get shat on. (The lofty get vomited and peed upon, but that’s another story.) Here and elsewhere, Babylon reveals the depths those seduced by Tinseltown will descend to, if only to get within touching distance of its siren-like glamour.

Leave a Comment