February 4, 2023

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A two-hour cut of Babylon shot on iPhone in Damien Chazelle’s backyard

2 min read

Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” is one of the biggest box office bombs of the year, opening to just $5.3 million over the four-day Christmas weekend despite a production budget north of $80 million. Many box office pundits have cited the film’s colossal 189-minute runtime as a reason why the Hollywood epic failed to connect with audiences. “Babylon” clocks in at three hours and nine minutes long, but it turns out Chazelle has a much shorter and much scrappier version of the film on her iPhone.

At a recent Los Angeles Q&A for the movie (via Entertainment Weekly ), Chazelle revealed that she prepared for “Babylon” by filming a two-hour cut of the movie in her backyard. The “La La Land” Oscar winner shot the project on his iPhone. This two-hour version of “Babylon” stars only two actors: Diego Calva, who plays assistant-producer Manny Torres, and Olivia Hamilton, who plays director Ruth Adler and is also Chazelle’s wife.

“It’s a very tight, two-hour version of the full movie, [filmed] on an iPhone in our backyard,” Chazelle said.

“We rehearsed the whole movie in his backyard, just Olivia, Damien and me,” Calva added. “It was a very unusual kind of situation.”

“Babylon” is set in the 1920s as Hollywood transitions from silent films to talkies. From Brad Pitt’s silent film icon Jack Conrad to Margot Robbie’s up-and-coming Nellie Loroy, Calver Manny, Jovan Adepo’s jazz trumpet player Sidney Palmer, and more, this shift greatly affects the lives of characters. Critics were divided on the film of diversity Peter DeBrugge called the film “exuberantly messy” in his review.

“Chazelle has essentially adapted a loud, vulgar live-action cartoon of a film, and while it’s occasionally exhilarating to witness the sheer virtuosity of his staging, the performances are all over the place,” Debruge wrote. “The vision of ‘Babylon’ is sorely lacking.”

“Babylon” is now playing in theaters nationwide

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