Borat

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Borat
Borat ver2.jpg
Poster in faux Cyrillic style
Directed byLarry Charles
Produced bySacha Baron Cohen
Jay Roach
Screenplay bySacha Baron Cohen
Anthony Hines
Peter Baynham
Dan Mazer
Story bySacha Baron Cohen
Anthony Hines
Peter Baynham
Todd Phillips
StarringSacha Baron Cohen
Ken Davitian
Luenell
Pamela Anderson
Music byErran Baron Cohen
CinematographyLuke Geissbuhler
Anthony Hardwick
Edited byCraig Alpert
Peter Teschner
James Thomas
Production
  company
Four By Two Productions
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • 3 November 2006 (2006-11-03)
Running time84 minutes[1][2]
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Armenian
Hebrew
Budget$18 million[2]
Box office$261,572,744[2]
 
  (Redirected from Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan)
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Borat
Borat ver2.jpg
Poster in faux Cyrillic style
Directed byLarry Charles
Produced bySacha Baron Cohen
Jay Roach
Screenplay bySacha Baron Cohen
Anthony Hines
Peter Baynham
Dan Mazer
Story bySacha Baron Cohen
Anthony Hines
Peter Baynham
Todd Phillips
StarringSacha Baron Cohen
Ken Davitian
Luenell
Pamela Anderson
Music byErran Baron Cohen
CinematographyLuke Geissbuhler
Anthony Hardwick
Edited byCraig Alpert
Peter Teschner
James Thomas
Production
  company
Four By Two Productions
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • 3 November 2006 (2006-11-03)
Running time84 minutes[1][2]
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Armenian
Hebrew
Budget$18 million[2]
Box office$261,572,744[2]

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is a 2006 British-American mockumentary comedy film directed by Larry Charles and distributed by 20th Century Fox. The film was written and produced by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen who also plays the title character, Borat Sagdiyev, a fictitious Kazakh journalist travelling through the United States recording real-life interactions with Americans. Much of the film features unscripted vignettes of Borat interviewing and interacting with Americans, who believe he is a foreigner with little or no understanding of American customs.[3] It is the second of three films built around Baron Cohen's characters from Da Ali G Show (2002–04). Ali G Indahouse (2002) featured a cameo by Borat, and the third film, Brüno, was released in 2009. The film is produced by Baron Cohen's production company, Four By Two Productions. "Four By Two" is Cockney rhyming slang for "Jew".[4]

Despite a limited initial release in the United States, the film was a critical and commercial success. Baron Cohen won the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor: Musical or Comedy, as Borat, while the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture in the same category.[5] Borat was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 79th Academy Awards.

Controversy surrounded the film even two years prior to release, and after the film's release, some cast members spoke against, and even sued, its creators. It was banned in all Arab countries except Lebanon,[6] and the Russian government discouraged Russian cinemas from showing it.[7] It was released on DVD 5 March 2007 (a day later in Region 1 countries).

Plot[edit]

Kazakh television personality Borat Sagdiyev leaves Kazakhstan for the "Greatest Country in the World", the "U, S and A" to make a documentary at the behest of the Kazakh Ministry of Information. He leaves behind his wife Oksana and other inhabitants of his village including his "43-year-old" mother, "No. 4 prostitute in all of Kazakhstan" sister, "the town rapist", "the town mechanic and abortionist", bringing along his producer Azamat Bagatov and a pet chicken.

In New York, Borat sees an episode of Baywatch on television and immediately falls in love with Pamela Anderson. While interviewing and mocking a panel of feminists, he learns her name and her residence in California. Borat is then informed by telegram that his wife has been killed by a bear. Delighted, he secretly resolves to make Anderson his new wife in California; Azamat is told they are going to California because "Pearl Harbor is there. So is Texas." Azamat is afraid of flying because of the September 11, 2001 attacks, which he believes were the work of Jews. Borat, therefore, takes driving lessons and buys a dilapidated Gaz truck for the journey.

During the trip, Borat acquires a Baywatch booklet at a yard sale and continues gathering footage for his documentary. He meets gay pride parade participants, politicians Alan Keyes and Bob Barr and African American youths. Borat is also interviewed on live television and disrupts the weather report. Visiting a rodeo, Borat excites the crowd with jingoistic American remarks, but then sings a fictional Kazakhstani national anthem to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner", receiving a strong negative reaction. Staying at a bed-and-breakfast, Borat and Azamat are stunned to learn their hosts are Jewish. Fearful at the hands of their hosts, the two escape after throwing money toward cockroaches, believing they are their Jewish hosts transformed. While Azamat advises a return to New York, Borat attempts to buy a handgun to defend himself against Jews. When told he cannot buy a gun because he is not an American citizen, Borat purchases a bear for protection.

Borat seeks advice from an etiquette coach who suggests that Borat attend a private dinner at an eating club in the South, at which he (unintentionally) insults or otherwise offends the other guests, and gets kicked out after he lets Luenell, an African-American prostitute, into the house and shows her to the table. Borat befriends Luenell, and she invites him into a relationship with her, but he kindly tells her that he is in love with someone else. Borat then visits an antique shop with a display of Confederate heritage items, breaking glass and crockery.

The journey is interrupted when Borat, just out of the bath, exits the bathroom of his hotel room, and sees Azamat masturbating over a picture of Pamela Anderson in the Baywatch book. Borat becomes enraged and reveals his real motive for travelling to California. Azamat becomes livid at Borat's deception, and the situation escalates into a fully nude brawl with homoerotic undertones,[8] which spills out into the hallway, a crowded elevator, and ultimately into a packed convention ballroom. The two are finally separated by security guards.

As a result, Azamat abandons Borat, taking his passport, all of their money, and their bear, whose head is later seen inside Azamat's motel refrigerator. Borat begins to hitchhike to California, but is soon picked up by drunken fraternity brothers from the University of South Carolina. On learning the reason for his trip, they show him the Pam and Tommy sex video, revealing that she is not the virgin he thought she was. After leaving the three students, Borat becomes despondent, burning the Baywatch booklet and, by mistake, his return ticket to Kazakhstan. He regains his faith after attending a United Pentecostal camp meeting, at which Republican U.S. Representative Chip Pickering and Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith, Jr. are present. Borat learns to forgive Azamat and Pamela. He accompanies church members on a bus to Los Angeles and disembarks to find Azamat dressed as Oliver Hardy (though Borat thinks that he is dressed as Adolf Hitler). The two reconcile and Azamat tells Borat where to find Pamela Anderson.

Borat finally comes face-to-face with Anderson at a book signing at a Virgin Megastore. After showing Anderson his "traditional marriage sack", Borat pursues her throughout the store in an attempt to abduct her until he is tackled and handcuffed by security guards. Afterwards, Borat marries Luenell, and returns to Kazakhstan with her. The final scene shows the changes that Borat's observations in America have brought to his village, including the apparent conversion of the people to Christianity (the Kazakh version of which includes crucifixion and torturing of Jews) and the introduction of computer-based technology, such as iPods, laptop computers and a high-definition, LCD television.

The film plays out with a recapitulation of a mock Kazakhstan national anthem glorifying the country's potassium resources and its prostitutes as being the "cleanest in the region". The visual melange of Soviet-era photos are mixed with the real flag of Kazakhstan and, incongruously, the final frames show the portrait of Ilham Aliyev, real-life president of Azerbaijan, a country that had not been otherwise mentioned in the film.

Cast[edit]

Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Borat, at the Cologne premiere of the film.

Production[edit]

Actress and model Pamela Anderson was one of the few actors in the film and was privy to its in-jokes

Except for Borat, Azamat, Luenell, and Pamela Anderson, none of the characters are portrayed by actors.[3][10][17] Most scenes in the film were unscripted,[3] although the end credits do credit a "Naked Fight Coordinator". In most cases, the film's participants were given no warning on what they would be taking part in except for being asked to sign release forms agreeing not to take legal action against the film's producers.[18]

Principal photography was already under way in January 2005, when Baron Cohen caused a near riot in what would ultimately be the rodeo scene in the final cut of the film.[19] An interview with Baron Cohen by Rolling Stone indicated that more than 400 hours of footage had been shot for the film.[20]

Location[edit]

The "Kazakhstan" depicted in the film has little or no relationship with the actual country, and the producers explicitly deny attempting to "convey the actual beliefs, practices or behaviour of anyone associated with Kazakhstan" in the "all persons fictitious" disclaimer. The scenes showing Borat's home village were filmed in the Gypsy village of Glod, Romania.[21] The name of Borat's neighbour, Nursultan Tuyakbay, is a cross between the names of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and opposition politician Zharmakhan Tuyakbay.

Language[edit]

No Kazakh language is heard in the film. Borat's neighbours in Kazakhstan were portrayed by Romani people, who were unaware of the film's subject. The Cyrillic alphabet used in the film is the Russian form, not the Kazakh one, although most of the words written in it (especially the geographical names) are either misspelled or make no sense at all. The lettering on the aircraft in the beginning of the film is merely the result of Roman characters on a reversed image, while promotional materials spell "BORДT" with a Cyrillic letter for D substituted for the "A" in Faux Cyrillic style typically used to give a "Russian" appearance. Sacha Baron Cohen speaks Hebrew in the film, while Ken Davitian speaks Armenian.[22] They also use several common phrases from Slavic languages: Borat's trademark expressions "jagshemash" (jak się masz) and "chenquieh" (dziękuję) echo the Polish (or other related languages) for "How are you?" and "thank you".[23] While presenting his house, Borat says "tishe" to his house-cow; "tiše/тише" is Russian (similar words exist in other Slavic languages) for "quiet(er)" or "be quiet".[24]

Deleted scenes[edit]

The DVD included several deleted scenes from the film, including Borat being questioned by police at a traffic stop, visiting an animal shelter to get a bear to protect him from Jews, getting a massage at a hotel, and visiting an American doctor. There is also a montage of scenes cut from the film, including Borat taking a job at Krystal and taking part in an American Civil War reenactment. The deleted scenes menu also includes an intentionally tedious supermarket sequence with an unusually patient supermarket owner (Borat repeatedly asks about each product in the cheese section of the store and the owner responds the same way: "That's cheese"), an actual local TV news report about Borat's rodeo singing, and a final "happy ending" scene about Borat appearing in a Kazakh show entitled "Sexydrownwatch", a Baywatch clone that also starred Azamat, Luenell, and Alexandra Paul. A scene in which Borat "started pretending he was being arrested" was also filmed, but was removed under the threat of legal action by prison officials when they learned that the "documentary" was a satire.[25][26] In an interview, one of the film's writers, Dan Mazer, confirmed that there was a scene filmed but cut in which Borat observed the shooting of actual pornography with actress Brooke Banner. Mazer claimed that the scene was deleted so as not to compete with the naked hotel-fight, but hinted it might be included in future DVD releases.[27]

Release[edit]

Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat at the 2006 Comic Con, promoting the film

Previews[edit]

Borat was previewed at the 2006 Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, on 21 July 2006.[28] Its first screening to a paying audience was during the 2006 Traverse City Film Festival,[29] where it won the Excellence in Filmmaking Award.[30]

The film's official debut was in Toronto on 7 September 2006, at the Ryerson University Theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival. Baron Cohen arrived in character as Borat in a cart pulled by women dressed as peasants. Twenty minutes into the showing, however, the projector broke. Baron Cohen performed an impromptu act to keep the audience amused, but ultimately all attempts to fix the equipment failed.[31][32] The film was successfully screened the following night, with Dustin Hoffman in attendance.[33]

In Israel, a proposed poster depicting Borat in a sling bikini was rejected by the film's advertising firm in favour of one showing him in his usual suit.[34]

Scaled-back U.S. release[edit]

The film opened at No. 1 in the box office, maintaining first place for two weeks straight. The film earned more in the second week ($28,269,900) than in the first ($26,455,463), due to an expansion onto 2,566 screens.[35]

Theatrical release[edit]

Borat had its public release on 1 November 2006 in Belgium. By 3 November 2006, it had opened in the United States and Canada, as well as in 14 European countries. Upon its release, it was a massive hit, taking in US$26.4 million in its opening weekend, the highest ever in the United States and Canada for a film released in fewer than 1,000 cinemas[36] until Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert in 2008.[37] However, its opening day (approximately $9.2 million)[38] was larger than that of the Hannah Montana concert (approximately $8.6 million),[39] leaving Borat with the record of the highest opening day gross for a film released in fewer than 1,000 cinemas. On its second weekend, Borat surpassed its opening with a total of US$29 million.[40]

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was well received by critics. In an article about the changing face of comedy, The Atlantic Monthly said that it "may be the funniest film in a decade".[41] Michael Medved gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars, calling it "...simultaneously hilarious and cringe-inducing, full of ingenious bits that you'll want to describe to your friends and then laugh all over again when you do."[42] Rotten Tomatoes classified it as one of the best-reviewed films of 2006, with an aggregate "Certified fresh" rating of 91%.[43]

One negative review came from American critic Joe Queenan, who went as far as to call Baron Cohen an "odious twit".[44] In an article for Slate, writer Christopher Hitchens offered a counter-argument to suggestions of anti-Americanism in the film. Hitchens suggested instead that the film demonstrated amazing tolerance by the film's unknowing subjects, especially citing the reactions of the guests in the Southern dinner scene to Borat's behaviour.[45]

By posting scenes from the film on YouTube, Borat was also exposed to viral communication. That triggered discussions on different national identities (Kazakh, American, Polish, Romanian, Jewish, British) that Baron Cohen had exploited in creating Borat the character.[46]

Commercial[edit]

American audiences embraced the film, which played to sold-out crowds at many showings on its opening, despite having been shown on only 837 screens. Borat debuted at No. 1 on its opening weekend, with a total gross of $26.4 million,[36] beating its competitors Flushed Away and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. The film's opening weekend's cinema average was an estimated $31,511, topping Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, yet behind Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Spider-Man.[47] It retained the top spot in its second weekend after expanding to 2,566 theatres, extending the box office total to $67.8 million.[40]

In the United Kingdom, Borat opened at No. 1, with an opening weekend gross of £6,242,344 ($11,935,986),[48] the 43rd best opening week earnings in the UK as of March 2007.[49] Since its release, Borat has grossed over $260 million worldwide.[50]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Borat received a nomination at the 79th Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, although the award ultimately went to The Departed.[51] It was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award under the category of Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy, but lost to Dreamgirls.[5] The Broadcast Film Critics Association named it the Best Comedy Movie of 2006, and the Writers Guild of America, West nominated it for their award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[52][53]

Baron Cohen won a Golden Globe for Best Actor: Musical or Comedy.[5] He received equivalent awards from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, the Utah Film Critics Association, the Toronto Film Critics Association, and the Online Film Critics Society.[54][55][56][57] The Los Angeles Film Critics Association tied Baron Cohen with Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland for their title of Best Actor. Baron Cohen was also nominated for Best Actor by the London Film Critics Circle.[58][59]

Borat has been featured in multiple top 10 lists of films in 2006, including lists by the American Film Institute, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, David Ansen for Newsweek, and Lou Lumenick for the New York Post.[60][61][62][63]

Retirement of Borat character[edit]

A third film by Baron Cohen was released in 2009, and was based on another of his characters: Brüno, a gay Austrian fashion reporter. Universal Studios is reported to have produced the film with a budget of $42 million.[64]

Rupert Murdoch announced in early February 2007 that Baron Cohen had signed on to do another Borat film with Fox.[65] However, this was contradicted by an interview with Baron Cohen himself in which Baron Cohen stated that Borat was to be discontinued, as he was now too well known to avoid detection as he did in the film and on Da Ali G Show.[66] A spokesman for Fox later stated that it was too early to begin planning such a film, although they were open to the idea.[67]

Baron Cohen subsequently announced that he was "killing off" the characters of Borat and Ali G because they were now so famous he could no longer trick people. Even though he decided to retire his trademark characters, on 26 February 2014, he brought the world-famous characters back to life (in Borat's case) & out of retirement (in Ali G's case) for his new FXX series "Ali G: Rezurection," which is a collection of the sketches from all 18 episodes of "Da Ali G Show," including new footage of Baron Cohen in-character as Ali G, who is portrayed as the presenter of the show, in a sense, reviving his characters' sketches, and therefore, the characters themselves, in a clip show-esque fashion.[68]

Controversies[edit]

Participants' responses[edit]

After the film's release, Dharma Arthur, a news producer for WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi, wrote a letter to Newsweek saying that Borat's appearance on the station had led to her losing her job: "Because of him, my boss lost faith in my abilities and second-guessed everything I did thereafter … How upsetting that a man who leaves so much harm in his path is lauded as a comedic genius." Although Arthur has said she was fired from the show, she told the AP that she left the station.[69] She claims to have checked a public relations website that Borat's producers gave her before booking him.[70]

In news coverage that aired in January 2005 of the filming of the rodeo scene, Bobby Rowe, producer of the Salem, Virginia rodeo depicted in the film, provided background on how he had become the victim of a hoax. He said that "months" prior to the appearance, he had been approached by someone from "One America, a California-based film company that was reportedly doing a documentary on a Russian immigrant"; he agreed to permit the "immigrant" to sing the U.S. national anthem after listening to a tape.[19] After the film's release, Rowe said "Some people come up and say, 'Hey, you made the big time'; I've made the big time, but not in the way I want it."[71] Cindy Streit, Borat's etiquette consultant, has subsequently hired high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who demanded that the California Attorney General investigate fraud allegedly committed by Baron Cohen and the film's producers.[72]

The Salon Arts & Entertainment site quotes the Behars (a Jewish couple whose guest house Borat and Azamat stay at) as calling the film "outstanding", referring to Baron Cohen as "very lovely and very polite" and a "genius".[3] The Boston Globe also interviewed the couple, saying they considered the film more anti-Muslim than anti-Semitic and had feared that Baron Cohen and his ensemble might be filming pornography in the house.[73]

The feminists from Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) felt that they had been duped, having "sensed something odd was going on" before and during the interview with Borat. The Guardian later reported at least one of the women felt that the film was worth going to see at the cinema.[74]

The New York Post had reported in November 2006 that Pamela Anderson filed for divorce from her husband Kid Rock after he reacted unfavourably to the film during a screening. The Post's article specifically claimed he had said of her role in the film, "You're nothing but a whore! You're a slut! How could you do that movie?"[75] In an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Anderson confirmed that Rock was upset by her appearance in the film, but did not confirm that this was the cause of the separation.[76]

Legal action by participants[edit]

The villagers of Glod, Romania, took legal action against the producers of Borat, complaining that they were lied to about the nature of the filming and they were portrayed as incestuous and ignorant. Some claimed they were paid only three lei (about US$1.28 in 2004) each, while others stated they were paid between $70 and $100 each, which did not cover their expenses.[21] They are asking for $38 million in damages.[68][dead link] One lawsuit was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in a hearing in early December 2006 on the ground that the charges were too vague to stand up in court. The litigants said they planned to refile.[77]

Two of the University of South Carolina fraternity brothers who appeared in the film, Justin Seay and Christopher Rotunda, sued the producers, claiming defamation.[78][79][80] The suit by Seay and Rotunda was dismissed in February 2007.[79] The students also had sought an injunction to prevent the DVD release of the film, which was denied.[78][79][80][81]

Another lawsuit was filed by a South Carolina resident who claimed to have been accosted by Baron Cohen (as Borat) in the bathroom at a restaurant in downtown Columbia, with the actor allegedly making comments regarding the individual's genitals, without signing any legal waiver. The lawsuit also sought to have the footage excluded from any DVD releases and removed from Internet video sites.[82]

The Macedonian Romani singer Esma Redžepova sued the film's producers, seeking €800,000 because the film used her song "Chaje Šukarije" without her permission.[83][84] Afterwards, Redžepova won a €26,000 compensation, since it turned out that Baron Cohen had got permission from her production house to use the song, which she had not been notified about.[85]

A lawsuit was launched by Felix Cedeno, who wanted $2.25 million from 20th Century Fox, claiming they invaded his privacy and needed permission to use his image. The 31-year-old was riding the subway home to the South Bronx when Baron Cohen let a live hen out of his suitcase, causing chaos in the subway car.[86]

Baltimore resident Michael Psenicska sought more than $100,000 in damages from Baron Cohen, 20th Century Fox, and other parties. Psenicska—a high school mathematics teacher who also owns a driving school—was reportedly paid $500 in cash to give Baron Cohen's bogus Kazakh journalist a driving lesson. In his action—filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan—the driving instructor said that he had been told the film was a "documentary about the integration of foreign people into the American way of life", and that if he had known the film's true nature, he would have never participated. Psenicska said he was entitled to damages because the defendants used images of him to advertise the film.[87] The case was dismissed on 9 September 2008.[88][89]

Jeffrey Lemerond, who was shown running and yelling, "Go away" as Borat attempted to hug strangers on a New York street, filed a legal case claiming his image was used in the film illegally, and that he suffered "public ridicule, degradation and humiliation" as a result. The case was dismissed.[90]

Baron Cohen reacted to these suits by noting, "Some of the letters I get are quite unusual, like the one where the lawyer informed me I'm about to be sued for $100,000 and at the end says, 'P.S. Loved the movie. Can you sign a poster for my son Jeremy?'"[68][dead link]

Reception in Kazakhstan[edit]

The government of Kazakhstan at first denounced Borat. In 2005, following Borat's appearance at the MTV Movie Awards, the country's Foreign Ministry threatened to sue Sacha Baron Cohen, and Borat's "Kazakh-based" website, www.borat.kz, was taken down.[91][92] Kazakhstan also launched a multi-million dollar "Heart of Eurasia" campaign to counter the Borat effect; Baron Cohen replied by denouncing the campaign at an in-character press conference in front of the White House as the propaganda of the "evil nitwits" of Uzbekistan.[93][94] Uzbekistan is, throughout the film, referred to by Borat as his nation's leading problem—leaving aside the Jews.

In 2006, Gemini Films, the Central Asian distributor of 20th Century Fox, complied with a Kazakh government request to not release the film.[7] That year, Kazakh ambassador Erlan Idrissov, after viewing the film, called parts of the film funny and wrote that the film had "placed Kazakhstan on the map".[95] By 2012, Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov attributed a great rise in tourism to his country—with visas issued rising ten times—to the film, saying "I am grateful to 'Borat' for helping attract tourists to Kazakhstan."[96]

The Kazakh tabloid Karavan declared Borat to be the best film of the year, having had a reviewer see the film at a screening in Vienna. The paper claimed that it was "...certainly not an anti-Kazakh, anti-Romanian or anti-Semitic" film, but rather "cruelly anti-American ... amazingly funny and sad at the same time."[97] Another favorable word came from Kazakh novelist Sapabek Asip-uly, who suggested Baron Cohen be nominated for the annual award bestowed by the Kazakh Club of Art Patrons. In a letter published by the newspaper Vremya, Asip-uly wrote, "(Borat) has managed to spark an immense interest of the whole world in Kazakhstan—something our authorities could not do during the years of independence. If state officials completely lack a sense of humor, their country becomes a laughing stock."[98] Amazon UK has also reported significant numbers of orders of Borat on DVD from Kazakhstan.[99]

In March 2012, the parody national anthem from the film, which acclaims Kazakhstan for its high-quality potassium exports and having the second cleanest prostitutes in the region, was mistakenly played at the Amir of Kuwait International Shooting Grand Prix. The Gold Winning medalist, Maria Dmitrienko, stood on the dais while the entire parody was played. The team complained, and the award ceremony was restaged. The incident apparently resulted from the wrong song being downloaded from the Internet.[100][101]

Accusations of racism[edit]

The European Center for Antiziganism Research, which works against negative attitudes toward Romani people, filed a complaint[102] with German prosecutors on 18 October 2006, based on Borat's references to Gypsies in his film. The complaint accuses him of defamation and inciting violence against an ethnic group.[103] As a consequence, 20th Century Fox declared that it would remove all parts referring to Romani people from trailers shown on German television as well as on the film's website.[104]

Before the release of the film, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a statement expressing concern over Borat's characteristic anti-Semitism.[105] Both Baron Cohen (who is Jewish) and the ADL have stated that the film uses the titular character to expose prejudices felt or tolerated by others,[106] but the ADL expressed concern that some audiences might remain oblivious to this aspect of the film's humor, while "some may even find it reinforcing their bigotry".[107]

Censorship in the Arab world[edit]

The film was banned in the entire Arab world except for Lebanon.[6][108] Yousuf Abdul Hamid, a film censor for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, called the film "vile, gross and extremely ridiculous". The censor said that he and his colleagues had walked out on their screening before it had ended, and that only half an hour of the film would be left once all the offensive scenes were removed.[108]

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack for Borat was released on the iTunes Store on 24 October 2006, and in shops on 31 October 2006. The album included music from the film, five tracks entitled "Dialoguing excerpt from moviefilm", as well as the controversial anti-Semitic song "In My Country There Is Problem" from Da Ali G Show.[109]

The folk music included in the soundtrack has no connection to the authentic music of Kazakhstan. The album features songs by Gypsy and Balkan artists (mostly Emir Kusturica and Goran Bregovic) and includes music by Erran Baron Cohen, founding member of ZOHAR Sound System and brother of Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen, as well as songs sung by Sacha Baron Cohen himself in character as Borat.

Home media[edit]

The Region 2 DVD was released 5 March 2007, with the Region 1 release the following day.[110][111] Special features include deleted scenes, faux advertisements for the soundtrack album, and a complete Russian language translation audio track using a professional dubbing cast, along with the English, French, and Spanish language tracks common on Region 1. There is also a choice of Hebrew, but this is merely a joke; choosing the Hebrew language option results in a warning screen reading "You have been trapped, Jew!" which warns the viewer not to change his shape and to keep his claws where they can be seen, again playing on the anti-Semitism supposedly prevalent in Borat's version of Kazakhstan. It also includes footage of Borat's publicity tour for the film, with Baron Cohen in character as Borat on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the Toronto International Film Festival, and Saturday Night Live. Also, there is a section of a news story from Virginia about Borat and the rodeo he visited, with the Rodeo owner (Bobby Rowe) being interviewed.

As a play on the copyright infringement common in the former Soviet Union, the packaging of the Region 1 (United States/Canada), 2 (Europe/Japan/South Africa/Middle East), and 4 (Latin America/Oceania) editions mimics a foreign bootleg DVD. The slipcover is in English but the case itself has all-Cyrillic text (a majority of which is in legitimate Russian, not faux Cyrillic) and is made to look poorly photocopied. The disc itself is made to look like a "Demorez" DVD-R with the slogan "Is life? No. Demorez.", a parody on "Is it live, or is it Memorex?" ad campaign, and the word "BOЯAT" appearing to be crudely written in marker with the "R" written backwards.[112] The UMD version is similar to the DVD, even being labelled a "UMD-R" (which do not exist). Even the Fox in-cover advertising is written in broken English that appears poorly printed, indicating that there are "More movie discs available from US&A" and "Also legal to own in Kazakhstan".

There are further jokes within the DVD itself. The menus are styled as a worn, static-laden film on an erratically functioning projector, with more Cyrillic writing accompanied by translations in broken English. The DVD is described as a "prerecorded moviedisc for purpose domestic viewing of moviefilm", and the viewer is warned that "selling piratings of this moviedisc will result in punishment by crushing". The DVD's collection of trailers promises that the depicted films are "coming Kazakhstan in 2028". By April 2007, the DVD had sold over 3.5 million copies, totaling more than $55 million in sales.[113] While a Blu-ray Disc release date for the U.S. has yet to be announced, it has been released on Blu-ray in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden.[114]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]