Babylon A.D. is based on the Cyberpunk novel Babylon Babies by Maurice G Dantec Novel and film differ considerably, especially because the novel spends much time telling about Toorops experiences in the war as well as the geopolitical changes due to the Balkan wars. And while in a novel the author can form a much more detailed world a movie does not offer such liberties. Director Mathieu Kassovitz picked one topic from the book and spent five years preparing for Babylon A.D..
A church run as an incorporated company, with he High priestess also being the CEO, uses modern gene technology to create a miracle that is supposed to guarantee them more believers and increase the stock price, no matter the cost.
Religion as business. A church without the need of a god. Insurmountable gaps between poor and rich. Anarchy here, total control there. So much could have been made but Kassovitz was not allowed to. The American studio FOX was the main investor and wanted more of an action movie than a philosophical conflict with God and His replacement through man made technology. Due to FOXs demand for more action the budget was uncontrollable – Kassovitz was unable to shoot the scenes that were important to him the way he wanted to or at all.
In the end there were two different versions. Kassovitzs European Version and a shorter version for FOX. The European Version seems to be the best Kassovitz was able to produce with the footage he was able and allowed to shoot. The FOX version has been altered in every way imaginable. The few violence cuts and the toned down language for the PG-13 rating are almost not worth mentioning, but the severe changes of the storyline were unforgivable for Kassovitz. Already the changed opening monologue demonstrates how FOX did not allow any criticism whatsoever concerning God or churches. Later in the movie any critical dispute with the church of the Neolites has been swept away. On top of that FOX demanded more action in the third act of the movie, so an unnecessary car chase was squeezed between the last two scenes. Also, the dark ending was something that was out of the question for American audiences. So Aurora does not die at the end and lives happily ever after with Toorop and her children. A smack in the face of every fan of dystopian stories.
Although the order of the scenes is almost identical the order of the shots contained in said scenes is entirely different most of the time. There are much alternative footage, different takes, extensions and shortenings as well as tons of alternative dialogue. A common censorship report in which every different shot is described is therefore not very helpful in this case. So just as with American History X (where it was even more extreme) we had to choose a different way. The film is chopped into the individual scenes and described in detail, with emphasis on the dialogue since most changes have been made here.
FOX slapping the European Version on DVD and Blu-ray, calling it Raw and Uncensored, Extended Harder Cut or simply Unrated is in no way a confession of their own inadequacy but mere business.
European Version: 96:50 minutes
Of the dialogues, the gray/black text is heard in both versions, the red is heard only in the European Version (EV), the blue text is heard only in the US Version. (US)
In the European Version (EV) the shot of the earth fades in smoothly. In the PG-13 Version (US) we see a hard cut.
The Off-commentary from Toorop starts identical, but differs after the first sentences. In the EV he attacks God which is a main topic of Cyberpunk and of significant meaning in the movie.
The US shows short credits in front of a black screen.
In the EV Toorop suddenly wakes up – as if the explosion from the beginning was just a dream. We find ourselves in "New Serbia". Weapons are sold in front of his apartment and a man fires a machine gun. During the credits he eats his breakfast. In the news we hear about terrorist attacks in Iran.
After he has bought the rabbit and gotten back into his apartment building we see Toorop walking up the stairs in the EV, then longer in his apartment before he takes the rabbit apart. Only the EV shows him skinning the rabbit and opening the ribcage to remove the intestines. The cooking takes longer, too.
EV: 152s | US: 98,5s
The Russians storming Toorops apartment is cut differently. Even the explosion is different for a few frames. Only the EV shows the muzzle flash as Toorop shoots Karl.
EV: 94,5s | US: 89,5s
After Toorop has put on his coat he takes the rest of his breakfast in the EV to give it to the boy on the stairs. The mercenaries seem rest- and helpless as he exits the building.
As Toorop stands in front of the tank he tries to light a cigarette in the EV but his lighter is empty.
Dialogue changes in the tank
After Toorop has gotten out of his car he waits for his car a little longer.
EV: 6:19min | US: 4:43min
In front of the monastery Toorop tries to light another cigarette for the third time but his lighter still doesn't work. Finally he throws it away. This indicates that is not the sharpest tool in the shed concerning trivial things not requiring his full attention. Since this scene as well as the one in front of the tank is missing, this character detail is completely lost in the US Version.
After Rebecca ordered Toorop to put the luggage away – although they just recognized that he is anything but a gentleman and simply walks away – he answers "No" in both versions. In the EV he then grimaces and says "Shit" before picking up the luggage. In the US he picks it up too, but without the face and the "Shit".
In the car he asks the women for a lighter in the EV but then recognizes himself that it is very unlikely for them to possess such a thing..
A short dialogue in the tunnel is missing in the US.
They're just about two or three kilometers away from the monastery.
After they exit the tunnel the EV shows them driving to Troitsk at the Russian border a bit longer.
EV: 5:58min | US: 4:54min
The US Version shows the High Priestess in New York being told that the girl is on her way and will be there in six days. This scene is shown much later and with different text in the EV.
US: + 25s
The hung dog is seen longer in the EV. As Aurora changes, Rebecca makes sure that Toorop is not peeking.
Here we notice for the first time that the three are being watched.
In the EV we don't know who watches them or how dangerous they are. The US tries a different approach.
In the US we already get to know Darquandier and know that Aurora is his daughter. The enemy also has a name already. Also, while the EV presents a movie on a video screen, the US features a commercial for the Neolites. So while we don't know the enemy yet in the EV, the US already blurts it out for everyone unable to wait twenty more minutes.
A dialogue between Jamal and the hackers is missing in the US.
After the explosion the US is missing a shot of injured people on the ground.
EV: 5:31min | US: 5:05min
While in the US Toorop and the women get seats in the overcrowded train just like that, he tries to buy seats from a family in the EV. Since he does not speak their language, Aurora steps in, speaking their language fluently and being very polite, so they get the seats.
As Aurora asks about the tigers on the marketplace and Toorop axplains that they are second generation clones a part of the dialogue is different.
He receives no answer from Aurora, only an excuse from Rebeka. Then the radiation shutters close over the train as they drive past a destroyed nuclear power plant. The US features an announcement over the speakers.
So while the EV leaves the viewer in the dark for about a half minute, FOX apparently deemed it necessary to wipe out any possible confusion for the audience they don't seem to think very high of in terms of intellect. Viewers of the EV will have to put two and two together themselves as they see the train riding past the destroyed power plant only moments later.
In addition, a part of the dialogue is missing in the US.
EV: 115,5s | US: 111,5s
In the Club in Vladivostok the man with the megaphone speaks English in the US but Russian in the EV.
As Aurora looks past the cage with the boxer she and the Killa are looking at each other in the EV. In the US he doesn't notice her right away.
Then we see the three from the watchers perspective again. Changed dialogue in this scene.
Toorop finds his contact Finn and points his fingers at his head like a gun.
Aurora watches the cage fight. The Killa from China breaks his opponents leg but we only hear it in the EV.
The watchers confront Toorop, urging him to let the women go.
Toorop throws the money in the air and escapes with the women.
The fight between Jamals men and Toorop and Rebeka has been recut at several points. Both versions offer exclusive footage but none of the two versions is particularly more violent than the other.
EV: 6:22min | US: 5:54min
The cage fight is significantly different in both versions. The announcer speaks English again in the US.
In addition, the music is much louder in the US. Most of the time we don't hear the beating due to the music.
On top of that the fight is much longer and much more brutal in the EV. The Killa spits blood, is choked and tries to surrender. We hear him gasping and a few bones seem to break as Toorop continues to choke him. Only in the EV it is made clear that Toorop is trying to kill him instead of just knocking him out.
Altogether there are 19 differences during the cage fight. In addition, a scene is played faster in the US and the music drowns most of the fighting noises. Killas gasping and his bones snapping has been deleted as well.
EV: 118,5s | US: 78s
As Aurora goes with Jamal, followed by Toorop and Rebeka, many recuts have been made. A scene of a dozen of Jamals men following him and Aurora crawling on all fours like monkeys is missing in the US.
After Rebeka is with Aurora again a short dialogue is missing in the EV.
EV: 145,5s | US: 143s
Dialogue change on the ice.
The run on the submarine is cut differently in both versions but more explicit in neither. Both versions contain the drowning and shooting of adults and children. In the US the Captain warns one minute before emerging.
As Aurora freaks out in the submarine, the US only shows her inside while the EV shows the drowning people numerous times for a fraction of a second.
Finn comments on Auroras freakout.
Rebeka talks about Aurora.
The captain speaks English in the US and Russian in the EV.
Finn has listened to the conversation and joins in.
EV: 7:42s | US: 6:55s
Alaska / Canada
Different dialogue as the drones shoot at Toorop and the others.
The US extends the action sequence a bit. Toorop jumps one more time before the drones fire their missiles. As Toorop causes one drone to crash the EV cuts right to the explosion behind him and his jump down a slope and it looks like a part of the destroyed drone has caused the explosion. The US takes longer from the drone crash to the jump. Here a missile from another drone has caused the explosion. The jump and the fall is longer in the US as well and contains two slow motion shots from far away while the EV contains a view from the snow mobile as it lands.
The other drone attacks Finns snow mobile. Besides the editing the dialogue is different as well.
After the explosion of Toorops snow mobile.
Right after Toorop has shot Finn.
Only the EV shows Toorop shooting a rabbit for them to eat.
EV: 8:51min | US: 8:44min
While Toorop showers the shower talks only in the EV.
EV: 125,5s | US: 114,5s
Now the EV shows the High Priestess learning that Aurora will be there soon. This scene was shown way earlier in the US.
In the US, there is another scene at the airport. Toorops passport is scanned at the back of his neck when the alarm goes off. However, the alarm was caused by another man who is promptly led away by security.
US: + 43s
Welcome to New York
Finally we are in New York. The driving through the city is a bit longer in the EV. In the US Toorop talks as he gets out of the taxi.
In exchange, in the EV the apartment talks in the EV.
Aurora asks whether they could turn the display off that is showing fifty TV channels at the same time.
Before she drops the glass Aurora stands in front of the display longer in the EV.
After the news have broadcasted that Auroras monastery has apparently been blown up by terrorists the High Priestess makes a statement. It starts similar in both versions but ends differently.
Toorop talks to Gorsky.
The dialogue between Aurora and Rebeka is longer at the beginning in the EV.
As Gorskys men and the Neolites are gathering in front of the house Toorop talks to Rebeka.
Newton, the doctor examines Aurora longer in the EV. After examining her blood he talks in the EV.
When the doctor is gone Toorop talks to Rebeka.
Aurora joins the conversation.
Toorops cell phone rings.
As we can see the relationship between the three characters differs greatly in both versions. Also the church addressing themselves as a corporation is gone in the US.
EV: 10:16min | US: 9:02min
The shootout is cut differently in numerous places but very few shots are not contained in both versions one way or the other. A few things are worth mentioning nevertheless.
After Toorop has tricked the missile and emptied Rebekas weapon, the EV shows Aurora walking through the gunfire in slow motion without catching so much as one bullet. Rebeka tries to pull her to safety but has to stay clear of the gunfire herself. This scene was shown in the trailers but is missing completely in the US. And while the EV shows a shot of Aurora seemingly in trance the US shows her fighting vigorously.
After Toorop has run out of ammo we see a man standing on a car and shooting at Rebeka in the EV. Then both versions show Toorop throwing the man to the ground.
As Rebeka is shot she takes only one hit in the US but several in the EV. Only in the US she talks to Toorop as he leans over her.
The US contains more shots of the second missile approaching Toorop, including a POV so there can be no doubt that the missile abandons its primary target, Toorop who is already dying, and heads straight for Aurora.
As we can see the running time difference is not worth mentioning.
EV: 250s | US: 245,5s
After Toorops death, the US shows the church of the Neolites. The EV shows the first part of Darquandiers hideout, the second part after the executive meeting of the Neolites.
First the meeting.
Both versions present different summarizations of the events and the Neolites goals. Again the EV shows the church as a corporation.
During the conversation with the corporations executive the US is missing a part.
An assistant approaches from behind.
The assistant reports that Toorops body has been stolen from the morgue.
EV: 90,5s | US: 48,5s
Toorop wakes up.
As Toorop is pushed to Daranquier he talks to Jamal in the US.
Jamal loosens the ties that are only meant to keep Toorop from falling out of the bed. In the EV he loosens the ties just like that, with no implication that Toorop is a prisoner. Only in the EV classical music can be heard. Toorop looks at his new hand. The explanation of Darquandiers rescue is arranged differently but identical in words.
Toorop has had enough. He grabs Darquandier.
EV: 3:08min | US: 2:45min
Darquandier plugs Toorop in.
As Darquandier extracts Toorops memories there are differences in all kinds of ways. Colors, editing, sound and dialogue. Also, the EV is about forty seconds longer, showing bits of Toorops childhood while the US stays mainly within the events of the past six days and shows more of that.
In the EV we see moments from Toorops childhood where he is forced to kill, his time as a mercenary in various wars, and also connections to Al-Qaeda and real terrorist attacks like 9/11.
Different dialogue between Darquandier and Jamal
Toorop is shot in his memories and the EKG stops.
Toorop is back.
EV: 186s | US: 146s
Here the US first shows the High Priestess talking to Gorsky before he is blown up by the nuke. Then the dialogue between Darquandier and Toorop at the window before the Neolites enter the complex. The EV shows Darquandier and Toorop, then High Priestess.
The Humvees are storming Darquandiers hideout. The EV shows the High Priestess in her car, learning that two cars have escaped while the US show Toorop and Jamal escaping in one of said cars.
At the end of the talk between Darquandier and the High Priestess she threatens him with a gun.
EV: 196,5s | US: 134s
As Toorop searches the abandoned shack he sees a deer. In the EV he looks for Aurora longer and seems to be hearing her calling his name.
Aurora and Toorop are driving away from the hut. In the EV Toorop says something.
The EV fades out and a text screen tells us that the next scene in the hospital takes place six months later. The US presents a complete action sequence here.
EV: 146,5s | US: 115,5s
Car chase (US exclusive)
Behind the cars of Toorop and the others the Neolites appear, opening fire right away. Toorop drives across a bridge and through a tunnel where a car of the Neolites crashes. The second car crashes right outside the tunnel. After they've driven across a field the Neolites Range Rover takes out one of the cars of Jamals associates. The range Rovers wedge the remaining car Toorop, Jamal and Aurora are sitting in. Jamal takes the steering wheel while Toorop opens the back door, smashes a rage Rovers window and throws a grenade inside. Then he shoots the Rage Rovers tires. A bit later both Range Rovers explode.
Hospital / Ending
The scene runs significantly longer in the EV, containing an Off commentary from Toorop.
She wakes up and thanks Toorop for saving her.
In the EV the nurses come in to prepare Aurora for childbirth. Her heartbeat becomes slower and stops eventually. Toorop, close to breaking out into tears, closes Auroras eyes. We hear the babies scream and Toorop speaks from the Off.
The US does not show Aurora die.
Instead we get a Love-conquers-all ending. Toorop is in his shack that looks a lot better now after being renovated. The garden is like a paradise and the children are older. We don't get to see Aurora but since she didn't die in the hospital she's probably in the kitchen, wearing an apron and preparing a meal for her husband.
EV: 2:41min | US: 4:21min