Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” was one of the biggest box office hits of the year, making just $5.3 million in four days over Christmas weekend despite a production budget of over $80 million. Many box office pundits have cited the film’s mammoth 189-minute running time as one reason why Hollywood epics fail to connect with audiences.”Babylon” is 3 hours and 9 minutes long. But it turns out that Chazelle’s iPhone has a much shorter and crappier version of the movie.
During a recent Los Angeles Q&A for the film (via Entertainment Weekly), Chazelle revealed that she prepped for “Babylon” by filming a two-hour cut of the film in her backyard. The Oscar winner for “La La Land” filmed this project on his iPhone. This two-hour version of his “Babylon” features only two actors. Diego Calva played her assistant-turned-producer Manny Torres in the film, and Olivia Hamilton starred as her director Ruth Adler, who also happened to be Chazelle’s wife.
“It’s a very tight two-hour version of the whole movie. [filmed] On my iPhone in the backyard,” says Chazelle.
“We rehearsed the entire movie in his backyard, just Olivia and Damien and I,” Calva added. “It was a very unusual kind of situation.”
Babylon is set in the 1920s, when Hollywood transitioned from silent films to talkies. This shift has taken several from Brad Pitt’s silent film icon Jack Conrad, to Margot Robbie’s up-and-coming Nellie Laroy, Calva’s Manny, and Jovan Adepo’s jazz trumpeter Sydney Palmer. It has a great impact on the lives of the characters. Critics are divided on the film. variety of Peter Debruge called the film “enthusiastic messy” in his review.
“Chazelle essentially tweaked a live-action cartoon of a fussy, vulgar film. Witnessing the true virtuosity of his staging is sometimes exhilarating, but the performance is all over the place,” Debruge wrote. “‘Babylon’ lacks perspective.”
Babylon is now showing in theaters nationwide.