In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Babylon, we answer questions you have about the movie. If you’re curious about plot explanations, meanings, themes, lessons, motifs, symbols, or just confused by something, ask and we’ll do our best to answer.
- Nellie LaRoy – Margot Robbie
- Jack Conrad – Brad Pitt
- Manny Torres – Diego Calva
- Lady Fay Zhu – Li Jun Li
- Sidney Palmer – Jovan Adepo
- Elinor St. John – Jean Smart
- George Munn – Lukas Haas
- Ruth Adler – Olivia Hamilton
- Max – P.J. Byrne
- Robert Roy – Eric Roberts
- James McKay – Tobey Maguire
- Don Wallach – Jeff Garlin
- The Count – Rory Scovel
- Otto Von Strassberger – Spike Jonze
- Written by – Damien Chazelle
- Directed by – Damien Chazelle
Babylon | Questions and Answers
Is Babylon based on a true story? How historically accurate is it?
Yes and no. No, in the sense that characters like Nellie LaRoy, Jack Conrad, Manny Torres, Sidney Palmer, and Lady Fay Zhu did not exist. Yes, in the sense that they’re all reminiscent of well-known Hollywood archetypes. For example, Nellie is very much in the vein of someone like Marilyn Monroe. Brad Pitt wasn’t necessarily supposed to be someone specific but representative of the leading men who age out of relevancy and struggle with it. Chazelle made Babylon to comment on the positive and negative realities of Hollywood, so the movie is infused with the familiar, despite being a work of pure fiction.
In terms of historical accuracy, it definitely takes liberties, but, again, Chazelle wanted to capture Old Hollywood. So aspects like breaking a camera and having to send someone to a camera rental store and wait for someone else to drop a camera off—accurate. But Manny stealing an ambulance to bring the camera to set—not accurate. Or needing to house cameras in soundproof rooms so microphones didn’t pick them up—real. But someone being locked in the room until they overheat and pass away—eh.
Why did the assassin let Manny live?
It’s probably a few things. One, being an assassin probably isn’t a very rewarding job. Two, he was probably told to take out Manny and The Count. Since the assassin had already done the job on The Count and The Count’s roommate, there was probably a bit more wiggle room to let Manny go. We saw how busy and weird James McKay was. It’s likely he already moved on to caring about something else so wouldn’t grill the assassin for details. “Did you get the guys?” “Yeah.” “Great.”
Also, Manny looked truly sad and pathetic. That’s not a knock on him. Most of us would be in a similar state. But seeing someone like that—yeesh. It’s highly likely the assassin was overwhelmed by Manny’s pleas and wanted to feel somewhat good about himself as a human so let Manny live.
Why did Nellie leave Manny?
Nellie is LGBTQ+. And the one relationship we saw her have in Babylon was with Lady Fay Zhu. While it seemed that Nellie was open in her sexuality, it didn’t mean she wanted to be in a relationship with Manny, much less any man. Even if she did, Nellie also didn’t seem the type to really settle down and be a wife, and have kids, and focus on family. At least not then and there.
But Nellie also had a lot of demons and self-loathing and probably felt that being in a relationship with Manny would only bring more hardship to him. She was aware of what a burden she had been. To Manny’s career and to his very mortality. Nellie most likely believed she would only hurt Manny more, that self-destruction was inevitable, and that it was sparing both him and her the heartache and hardship.
It also kind of captures the Hollywood dream. For a moment, Manny and Nellie were their fairy tale ending. Just like they had their big moments in Hollywood. Only for it to go up in smoke.
What questions do you have?
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