‘Babel,’ Guillermo Arriaga; idea by Arriaga, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Original screenplay contender

DISTRIB/RELEASE DATE: Paramount Vantage/Oct. 27 (limited), Nov. 10 (wide)

STORYLINE: Four interlocking tales across three continents reveal common human experiences: pain, the struggle to communicate and the solace of family.

ABOUT THE SCRIPT: Arriaga says he’d conceived the stories over several years without a theme in mind. Inarritu wanted to make a film about how a single event can ripple across the world. When they came together on the project, they moved one from Spain to Japan and connected all four to make it a global story.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Arriaga struggled “to make it authentic, because I have never been in Morocco, I’ve never been in Japan, and I never do any kind of research. I wanted the Japanese and Moroccan stories to feel real, and then to try to link the four stories.”

BREAKTHROUGH IDEA: “I always try to choose a word to lead me; this time it was ‘miscommunication.’ The lack of communication was the idea that led me through the screenplay. I try to tell the story, and then comes the concept. It’s a process of discovery.”

CHOICE LINES: Though it’s hard even for Arriaga to pick a favorite line, as the Moroccan and Japanese stories are translated, he likes the moment when the young Moroccan boy breaks the rifle and says, “I killed the American. Save my brother, he’s innocent.” Says Arriaga, “That was important to me in terms of emotions.”