'Babel' gets odd reception in Japan

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TOKYO -- As many as 50 people having experienced nausea after watching "Babel" at Japanese cinemas since its Saturday opening, according to the Oscar-nominated film's distributor, which has issued a warning via its Web site and national media.

"We are not sure what is making viewers feel sick, but it has been reported in several venues and we are looking into the matter," said Aimi Ichikawa, a spokeswoman for Gaga Communications.

"Up until yesterday we had reports of 50 people feeling ill, but that may have increased today," she said. "We have issued warnings to the public that they may feel unwell by watching the film."

Elsewhere, cinemas have distributed leaflets bearing a warning.

In the first two days of its release, "Babel" sold 30,000 tickets across Japan. Interest has been heightened by the performance of Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi, who was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar.

It is thought that the onset of naueau may be linked to a scene that lasts about a minute in which Kikuchi, who plays a high school student, is dancing in a nightclub with strobe lights. In 1997, a television cartoon in the "Pokemon" series had a similar effect on hundreds of children, some of whom had convulsions.

Starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, "Babel" is directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and revolves around the global consequences of a shooting in Morocco. Eagerly awaited ahead of its release, coverage of the potential harmful effects may have an impact on the number of people who go to theaters to see it.
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