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Italy released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), English ( Subtitles ), Italian ( Subtitles ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast/Crew Interview(s), Documentary, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Babylon (1980)
The movie centers around Brindsley Forde's character blue. He fronts a reggae sound system based in west London. The movie captures the trials and tribulations of young black youths in troubled London in the early eighties.
Dread Beat an' Blood (1979)
The story of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jamaican-born poet, writer and musician, now living in London and about the black working class community in London from which his material is drawn. ...Franco Rosso: Babylon, Dread Beat an' Blood ( Babylon / Dread Beat an' Blood )
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The film follows the fortunes of Blue - played by Brinsley Forde, the lead singer of Aswad who was a child star of the TV series "The Double Deckers" for those with a long enough memory - and his friends who are the Ital Lion soundsystem. The film documents the time up to a big soundclash between the Lion soundsystem and their rivals the Jah Shaka system - featuring DJ Jah Shaka himself. As events unfold Blue's life slowly hits a downward spiral.
Whilst, at times, the events of Blue's descent seem a little predictable this doesn't detract and is a minor criticism of what is a well paced, decently acted and well shot film. It is fascinating to see London, chiefly Lewisham, in such a deshevelled state. There is a lot of rubble and a grey hue to the place which suits the mood well. Support comes from a varitey of young black talent much of which has gone on to become fixtures on British TV.
Despite the tight budget this film has many highlights. It tackles the issue of racism unflinchingly and the scenes of abuse and brutality have a shocking power which still seems relevant today. The racism here is open, almost brazen, and one still feels uncomfortable watching it.
The other star of the show is the music which picks a few reggae gems and has a great original soundtrack composed by Dennis Bovell - surely one of the most unheralded sonic pioneers of his generation.Read more ›
There are some good DVD extras on here too; there is a Babylon commentary track featuring producer Gavrik Losey, lead actor Brinsley Forde, so-writer Martin Stellman and director Franco Rosso. Having this much aural input usually ends in chaos, but not here. With perfect manners and a delicate sensibility towards any suggestion of memory loss, they don't talk over each other and actually have an impressive amount of recollections considering so much time has passed since the film was made. Amongst other anecdotes we learn that although set in Brixton, most of the film was shot in Deptford and Lewisham.
It is an understatement to say that Babylon was before its time. Despite not being well received by a guilty and shamed society, the film did its part in helping Lord Scarman to stamp out police racism and sits proudly in the BFI's annals as a modern classic.
Fitting somewhere between the kitchen sink dramas of the 50s and 60s and the kind of confrontational TV plays directed by Alan Clarke - in fact, this was originally going to be a BBC production before they pulled the plug after filming started in the wake of the TV version of Clarke's Scum being banned - it's the kind of film that originally seemed to mark out a lot of promising careers that never really took off. Leading man, former Double Decker and lead singer of Aswad (who provide much of the film's soundtrack) Brinsley Forde didn't make another film for 21 years; director Franco Rosso only made one more film, a disastrously misjudged adaptation of Janni Howker's superb children's novel The Nature of the Beast; writer Martin Spellman, coming off Quadraphenia, would see his scripts go unproduced for a couple of decades after Defence of the Realm and For Queen and Country. Indeed, of the cast only Mel Smith, as a racist garage owner and a surprisingly natural Karl Howman as the soul white member of Forde's group would become familiar faces. As a result, the film seems very much stuck in its time and attitudes.
While the racial tension and feeling of dancing on the edge of a volcano haven't dated, the attitudes are more confrontational than they would be today.Read more ›
The turbulent, and sometimes violent 80'S are apparent in this film.
The dub and bass lines were the backbone of the numerous sound systems up and down the UK. Aswad's Warrior Charge at the end lays testament to the reggae movement of our past.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great film from the 80s and you don't need to be a fan of reggae music to watch it!Published 24 days ago by CrazyKitty
Although many films been made on the subject of racial tensions since this vibrant 1980 debut effort by anglicised Italian film-maker Franco Rosso, I don’t recall any that have... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Keith M
Reminds me of back in the day in the late 80s early 90s scene .Good moviePublished 7 months ago by Heather
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