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Franco Rosso’s incendiary Babylon had its world premiere at Cannes in 1980 but went unreleased in the U.S. for “being too controversial, and likely to incite racial tension” (Vivien Goldman, Time Out). Raw and smoldering, it follows a young reggae DJ (Brinsley Forde, frontman of landmark British group Aswad) in Thatcher-era Brixton as he pursues his musical ambitions, battling fiercely against the racism and xenophobia of employers, neighbors, police, and the National Front. Written by Martin Stellman (Quadrophenia) and shot by two-time Oscar® winner Chris Menges (The Killing Fields), Babylon is fearless and unsentimental, and set to a blistering reggae, dub, and lovers rock soundtrack featuring Aswad, Johnny Clarke, and more, anchored by legendary producer Dennis Bovell’s (The Slits) atmospheric score.
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Still a great film, very realistic depiction of Black youth's struggles in Brixton just prior to the riot of 1981 that led to the repeal of 'sus law' i.e. racial profiling, similar to 'stop and frisk' in the US. I think the plot is structured to show a reasonable simulacrum of the shift in the oppressed youths' attitude leading up to the Brixton riot. The climax of the film is a spark that set the blaze off, fictionalized of course, which makes it somewhat unique in its story telling.
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The extras are a worthwhile commentary and a Q&A following a screening, both of which feature the director, producer ,many of the actors & others who brought the film to the screen & (eventually) home viewing & DVD release.
There is an interesting item about the restoration of the film & it also has optional subtitles( reading some previous reviews I would recommend these for those not familiar with Jamaican/London style patois). Also included is a well designed booklet that has plenty of info + some good pics from the making of the film.
If you've seen this before you'll know if you want a rerun. But for those who haven't ,why not take a musical & social trip back to the London of 1980 & see what you think - personally I think this film has appeal beyond just nostalgia or interest in JA/UK style culture, & stands up as a vivid document of the times, a story about growing up & friends ,social class & questions of race, with good acting from a cast of local talent & a few faces soon to be TV regulars. With some great Sound System footage with good music, including Dennis Bovell,V.Jackson,Jah Shaka & Aswad,whose lead vocalist Brinsley Forde does a fine job playing 'Blue' the conflicted main character.
the actual dvd copy is of a very high standard sound and vision are good.
a must have for those that love reggae music and the 1970's. things have never been like this again. some of that good some of that sad