Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (or simply Borat) is a 2006 British-American mockumentary comedy film. 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. The film was directed by Larry Charles and distributed by 20th Century Fox. 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. It is the second of three films built around Baron Cohen's characters from Da Ali G Show (2000–04). The first being Ali G Indahouse (2002) (which featured a cameo by Borat), and the third film, Bruno, 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".
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. Borat was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 79th Academy Awards.
Controversy surrounded the film from two years prior to its 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, and the Russian government discouraged Russian cinemas from showing it. It was released on DVD March 5, 2007 (a day later in Region 1 countries).
Plot[edit | edit source]
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 Oxana and other inhabitants of his village – including his "43-year-old" mother, "No. 4 prostitute in all of Kazakhstan" sister, "the town rapist", and "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 Oxana 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 at two woodlice, 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, 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 runs out of gas in the truck, and 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 is also about to slaughter his pet hen, but then changes his mind and orders his pet to run away. 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. Borat visits Luenell and they get married 8 months later, returning 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 | edit source]
- Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat Sagdiyev, a fictional Kazakh journalist, distinguished by exaggeratedly strong anti-Semitism, sexism, and antiziganism, which is depicted as apparently the norm in his homeland. Borat was originally created as a character for Da Ali G Show and appeared in every episode of the show, along with a cameo in the film spin-off.
- Ken Davitian as Azamat Bagatov, the producer of Borat's documentary. Azamat was a new character created for the film. Davitian, as "The fat guy from Borat", was included at No. 2 on a list of "The 100 Unsexiest Men" by the Boston Phoenix.
- Luenell Campbell as Luenell the prostitute; first seen when Borat calls her to come to the Southern dinner, the climax of his effective destruction of the event.
- Pamela Anderson as herself; she plays a central role in the film as the reason for the journalist's cross country journey. She also appears in person at the end of the film, in a botched abduction attempt by Borat for cultural "marriage".
- When Borat seeks advice from an etiquette coach, he goes on to show nude photos of his allegedly teenaged son. These photos actually show gay porn star Stonie, who was chosen because producers were seeking "someone who would look 13 or 14 but was actually of legal age and would do frontal nudity".
Extra Content[edit | edit source]
Borat soundboard contains 30 quotes