1/13/2017

Film Review: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)

Fig. 1 Banner


'Borat' is a mockumentary film directed by Larry Charles in 2006 to make fun of the poor and underdeveloped countries like Kazakhstan compared to the advanced 'US and A'. As funny and ridiculous as the film is with every single joke in it, it'actually addresses a real social and cultural underdevelopment around the globe in small and poor countries.

Fig.2 Movie Still, Introducing Borat and his home town.

The film follows the adventure of the TV reporter and sixth most famous man in Kazahstan, Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen), together with Azamat (Ken Devitian) to America. They are sent there by the government of Kazakhstan to make a documentary about the American culture and society. As the full tittle suggests "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit of Kazakhstan', the whole point of the trip is to help their poor and underdeveloped country improve.

Ever since Borat arrives at the American airport he is continuously being 'attacked' by the advancement of the 'US and A'. He doesn't understand how the escalator works, he simply has never seen one. He arrives at the hotel and wants to bargain the price for his room, because he is used to these ways. He thinks that the elevator is his room and he is completely fine with it as a size, as he is not used to having bigger room. Once he enters his room he feels like a king, he sees such luxury for the first time in his life. In the bathroom he is washing his face with the toilet water, which is a bit too silly as in the introduction he mentions one of his hobbies is to go to the capital city and take pictures of women in the public toilet, therefore he knows how a toilet looks and what purpose it serves.



'The cartoonishness of Borat's naive beliefs (he's an ignorant man, but not malicious) takes the ridiculous stereotypes of "Crash" to even more hilarious extremes, and does a better job of undermining them as fantastical paranoid creations.' (Emerson, 2006). Borat unintentionally insults the people he meets on his journey. He doesn't mean anyone harm, he just grew up in a different country in which the reality is very different and somehow behind. His view of the world is also driven from that, as limited as it is. In his simple and delusional world Americans are like Gods and he is doing his best to fit in. He is always introducing himself to strangers, giving them a warm greeting, by kissing them on both cheeks. However for the Americans this is violation of the personal space, while for Borat there is no such thing as personal space, especially when it comes to women, which in his eyes have no rights and exist only for 'sexy time'. When he has a meeting with the feminist group, they get mad at his simple-minded behaviour, but he doesn't see it that way. In fact, he doesn't understand why they even get offended. Another thing that he doesn't understand is homosexuality as it's not exactly discussed in Kazakhstan 'He's homophobic, but he can't tell who's gay and who isn't. And because his culture thinks nothing of intimate physical contact between men, he has homosexual experiences without even realizing it.'(Emerson, 2006).

Every American he gets to talk however, he changes his usual accent and tries to mimic the American way of speaking, which makes him look retarded. Further on that note it can be said that while, Borat sees Americans as Gods, once he has interviews with them, he suddenly appears more uneducated and more silly than usual as if the point of view is being switched towards the Americans and how they actually see him He becomes the symbol of everything not American, which is also implied as an idea in many movies where Europe for example is also illustrated as union of underdeveloped and in a way exotic countries, right across the ocean.



Borat is everything that is labelled as wrong and inappropriate. Regardless of how simpleminded he appears, towards the end it becomes clear that the Americans are no different 'Borat travels to America, which turns out to be a nation almost exactly like Kazakhstan, only much larger, and with different accents, customs and even more inbred village idiots.'(Emerson, 2006). In fact they are all rude, inappropriate and have bad manners, only they have learned how to conceal them in order to appear better and superior.

After his return to Kazakhstan, his final message is that ever since he returned, everything changed for the better. As seemingly stupid as he appears to be, he used his new knowledge and observation to improve the life in his small town . One of the things that they no longer have is the "Running of the Jews' event, as it's 'cruel' and they are now Christians. He has a new wife, which everyone seems to worship, he helped his family, but as some things always stay the same - his neighbour is still  the same as he was in the begging of this adventure 'pain in the assholes'.


Illustrations------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Fig.1 Borat Banner URL:  https://fanart.tv/fanart/movies/496/movieart/borat-cultural-learnings-of-america-for-make-benefit-gloriou-513443201a33a.png (accessed on 18.12.2016)
  • Fig. 2 Movie Still URL:  https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/dvd/aplus/borat/600/borat_04_600.jpg (accessed on 18.12.2016)
  • FIg. 3. Movie Still URL: http://panamadude.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/boratToilet.jpg (accessed on18.12.2016)
  • Fig. 4 Movie Still URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/film/Grimsby/borat-ice-cream-van-large.jpg (accessed on 18.12.2016)




Bibliography----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Dargis, Mnohla, 2006, From Kazakhstan, Without a Clue, NYTimes.com, URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/03/movies/03bora.html (accessed on 18.12.2016)
  • Emerson, Jim, 2006, 'Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for make benefit of glorious nation of Kazakhstan, RogerEbert.com, URL: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/borat-cultural-learnings-of-america-for-make-benefit-glorious-nation-of-kazakhstan-2006 (accessed on 18.12.2016)
  • IMDb URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443453/ (accessed on 18.12.2016)
  • Travers, Peter, 2006, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, RollingStone.com,URL: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/borat-cultural-learnings-of-america-for-make-benefit-glorious-nation-of-kazakhstan-20061027 (accessed on 18.12.2016)




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