Wednesday, 02 May, 2007 Offbeat
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New Hollywood Movie Makes Japanese Feel Sick

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Japanese national newspapers warn people that watching a new Hollywood drama can make its viewers feel sick. The warnings are published on request of Gaga Communications, the movie's Japanese distributor.

Babel, a Golden Globe and Academy Award winning 2006 multi-narrative drama, was released in Japan on April 28. Since then the movie's distributors have received complaints from at least 15 people who felt ill while watching the drama, starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blancett and Rinko Kikuchi.

Babel caused a media sensation in Japan long before its release. Rinko Kikuchi, Japanese actress, was nominated for an Oscar for her brilliant performance in the movie. Rinko played a deaf-mute teenager schoolgirl. Besides the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, she was also nominated for several other prestigious awards, including the Gotham Award and the National Board of Review Award. Rinko Kikuchi has become the first Japanese actress to be nominated for an academy award in the period of 49 years.

No wonder the Babel movie attracted great interest of many Japanese people. But one scene in the drama has made some Japanese viewers queasy. It shows Kikuchi's character visiting a night-club with strobe lights flashing for about a minute. The movie distributors had to publish special warnings at their website and in newspapers, as well as on posters of about 300 movie-theaters.

The Babel movie has already been released in about 40 countries but there have been no reports about the similar cases. The symptoms described by some of the movie's viewers remind the situation in 1997 when an episode in the Japanese cartoon Pokemon with a scene featuring flashing lights made hundreds of people complain they suffered dizziness, nausea and even convulsions.

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