Customer Reviews


80 Reviews
5 star:
 (40)
4 star:
 (21)
3 star:
 (12)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Re-release Of A Classic British Indie Film
"Babylon" was part of a spate of movies made in the late 1970's and early 1980's which tried to put music on the big screen, making something to appeal to young people and also portray something contemporary. Whilst "Quadrophenia" seemed oddly dated and "Breaking Glass" a little cliched, "Babylon" manages to pull off most of its ambitions as this most welcome release on...
Published on 2 Nov 2008 by pjr

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Add a star if you like reggae music or lived thru these times ..
Set in the early 80s this film tells the story of a bunch of young black adults trying to run a successful sound system & culminates in a Battle of Sound Systems.

The film features a soundtrack of roots type reggae, mostly from Asward & is presented very clearly despite the films age.

Some of the dialogue can be a little hard to follow but that's not...
Published on 31 Oct 2008


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Re-release Of A Classic British Indie Film, 2 Nov 2008
By 
pjr (London, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Babylon [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"Babylon" was part of a spate of movies made in the late 1970's and early 1980's which tried to put music on the big screen, making something to appeal to young people and also portray something contemporary. Whilst "Quadrophenia" seemed oddly dated and "Breaking Glass" a little cliched, "Babylon" manages to pull off most of its ambitions as this most welcome release on DVD testifies.

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. It capturing the moment when dub started to head towards the electronic and it is a treat from the first rhythm to the last rumbling reverb.

Cited by serious minded critics as one of the best British films of the 80's this DVD gives the chance to see for yourself. Although not utterly perfect this is a fine film and the only real pity is that it didn't open the floodgates for more films like this. You can judge for yourself, but I'm siding with the critics in welcoming back this forgotten gem of a film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blue, it's a colour so true, 22 Jun 2009
This review is from: Babylon [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Franco Rosso's 1979 film stars Aswad founder Brinsley Forde as disenfranchised DJ `Blue'. Poverty, institutionalised racism, violence and disaffection with life for a young black musician in the UK in the late 70s are the core themes of the movie, and Forde's assured acting supported by future `Brushstrokes' star Karl Howman and drug dealer Trevor Laird makes this a powerful film of its time as well as an important and timeless social comment.

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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Add a star if you like reggae music or lived thru these times .., 31 Oct 2008
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Babylon (DVD)
Set in the early 80s this film tells the story of a bunch of young black adults trying to run a successful sound system & culminates in a Battle of Sound Systems.

The film features a soundtrack of roots type reggae, mostly from Asward & is presented very clearly despite the films age.

Some of the dialogue can be a little hard to follow but that's not the sound - that's the West Indian accents !!

The picture too is generally good although a bit grainy in parts.

Although this is about music & winning the competition, the real enjoyment comes in seeing this film as a record of social history - what it was like to be black in the 80s; the casual racism of working class white people, the violence on the streets & from the police & the 'interesting' fashions of the time!

This includes big locks sometimes hidden by bigger hats, authoritarian parents & young people tying to make a go of things.

Look out for a short piece from Mel Smith as the racist garage owner some of the gang work for, Brinsley Forde one time of the Double Deckers kids programme & Victor Romeo Evans a well known black cult comedian.

The film ends with the police breaking up the blues party but the toaster still defiantly playing the music.

A film to watch if you know who Janet Kay/Asward are & have ever enjoyed curry goat in a damp church hall at someone's wedding reception!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "This is my ****ing country, lady! And it's never been ****ing lovely!", 15 Jan 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Babylon [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Seen today, Babylon works better as a time capsule of a certain time and place - both in British cinema and on the streets - than as a movie in itself. Once groundbreaking, years of 1980s miserablist dramas about life at the bottom have worn away some of the film's edge, while the 70s patois that makes up part of the dialogue in several scenes at times turns the film into an unsubtitled foreign movie for many modern audiences.

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. In pre-PC 1980 whites using racist language openly in the street was so commonplace it seems shocking in an age when many hold the same feelings but wrap them up in less obscene language as if that makes them more acceptable. But it's not the only way that the film sometimes shows its age. At times its unfocussed and ambling, while the film's last act doesn't entirely convince, giving the feeling that, like the more genteel 'issue' films of the 50s, it has to end on a bold cathartic statement to give the movie a big finish even if it doesn't quite ring true. Along with the naturalistic performances Chris Menges' excellent photography, which benefits from a good DVD transfer, helps give the film a near-documentary immediacy that helps sell parts of the film that shouldn't quite work, but at times the film feels like there's perhaps more energy than passion than substance. Considering how 'white' British cinema was at the time that was enough to make an impact in 1980, but it's not quite enough to make the film keep all of that impact after 29 years.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Babylon, 8 April 2008
This review is from: Babylon (DVD)
This is a cult film of the 80's.If you are black and born in the late sixties this film represents what we were going through in our teen years.

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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic movie, 13 Oct 2008
By 
H. Henry "bohemia" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Babylon [DVD] (DVD)
Someone somewhere has got this on video, a cousin, uncle or friend. For years this film, videoed from channel 4, has been passed around, copied, passed around and copied some more. This is my all time quintessential black british movie, I know it line from line, tune from tune. The acting is not acting but just life. The characters could be illussive family members, who as a youngster would think they were cool and funny.
But seriously, this film tackles the harsh realities of black british life and culture in the 70's and 80's. The SUS laws, right wing hatred, black identity, the clashes between 1st and 2nd generation Caribbean immigrants and the phenomenal outlet of the sound system.
The cast are brilliant, the leading actor Brinsley Forbes from Asward, does a great job. You will spot some other well known faces, like the guy from Brush stokes/flash ads and Beefy, dont know his real name, but say it to anyone in the know and they'll just laugh. He is the balls in this film, hard head, hot head, dont take no crap from anyone.
Anyway hope i have done this film some justice, have been waiting about 25 years for it to come out on video let alone dvd. JUNGLE LION RAH!!.......... Oh yeah the soundtrack is mad.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Retro portrait of Black London life, 18 Nov 2008
By 
M. C. Cresswell - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Babylon [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Interesting slice of life from early 80s Thatcher's Britain set against the London which was about to erupt into the Brixton race riots which ultimately moved race and racism up the agenda in the UK. To be honest I didn't find the story or characters that appealing - impenetrable dialogue and uninviting plot, such as it is. But two things that are worth a look - the great location shots of Sarrrf London from a period I never experienced, and a portrait of a community and time which seems so far disconnected from now.

Possibly a classic of English Black cinema (not too many movies you can say that about), and well worth a watch if only for novelty value.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars babylon, 27 Sep 2010
By 
Annette Cole (London, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Babylon [DVD] (DVD)
remember watching this film years back, so when i purchased it i was pleased it brought back good memeories.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Movie!, 21 Sep 2010
By 
E. Boyd (Medford, Oregon) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Babylon [DVD] (DVD)
If you're into Reggae, Roots, Rock, Dancehall, Sound Systems and Toasters... You will love this movie! It's one of the best all time reggae movies, up there with "The Harder They Come", yet even more raw and rude! If you don't have this as part of your reggae movie collection, it's a must to have. The remastered version is great and the soundtrack is even better! Much love!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars UK History!!, 8 May 2009
By 
P. F. Edwards (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Babylon [DVD] (DVD)
We have had Blackjoy, Pressure & Burning An Illusion released to dvd but the job done on this dvd release is outstanding. My experience of this movie was via the bootleg that almost everyone had so to see it in its enhanced format with the added bonus' was & is a real treat.

The Movie itself, Like Pressure & Burning An Illusion gives you a real insight into life for 1st & 2nd generation uk blacks & I have made a point of letting the younger generation watch these movies so as to see how far we have come & the struggle it took to get here. & dont let me get started on the soundtrack..... OUTSTANDING
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Babylon [DVD]
Babylon [DVD] by Franco Rosso (DVD - 2008)
£4.58
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews