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4.3 out of 5 stars100
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 4 June 2013
This movie is highly recommended to all.Great classic, one for the collection can be watched over and over, Good quality in blu ray.
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on 17 December 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An excellent movie that really does capture early 80s reggae in the UK, backed by a fantastic soundtrack - which makes it worth watching alone.

Its a fantastic commentary on the early 80s and you get the chance to see Mel Smith with hair!

If you have even a small interest in uk reggae, then this is certaintly worth watching... excellent movie and grab the soundtrack CD whilst you're at it.
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on 26 October 2009
The DVD is excellent, definately worth purchasing especially if you are from a british/WI background.
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Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( 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.
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VINE VOICEon 25 October 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Franco Rosso's film appears at first glance to be a story of two rival soundsystems in London in the early 80's. The patois, posing and pace are all authentic and unshakeable, even to the point of alienating some of the audience who might not be so au fait with the culture of Jamaica and the subsequent culture of Jamaican first and second generation immigrants to Britain in the 70's and 80's.

But this film has a timely DVD release, whilst it's always been a bit cool to be Jamaican (see Bob Marley), the success of the ultra-cool Ussain Bolt and his team mates at the Beijing Olympics has once again turned the spot light on the island, and the absolutely fantastic music to be found there!

So the film itself, as it progresses, turns out not just to be about the music but about the well known trials and tribulations that black people have faced in this country at the hands of arrogant bosses, brutal police and generally ignorant individuals. Yes, we've heard about all of that before, but seeing one after the other inflicted on the main character 'Blue' sort of gives it more resonance.

Along the way he is supported by a strong cast, including Trevor Laird as the feisty, frustrated Beefy, and Karl Howman (yes...him from the Flash Ads) as the lacsidaisical Ronnie.

Rosso's film shows how a collection of social and personal pressures drives Blue further and further into a 'backs against the wall' stance of defiance at any kind of authority (be it his Father, the Police, the advice of his friends) shown beautifully on screen when he refuses to stop vocalising at the sound system even though there is a raid going on.

Worth a watch for a slice of London culture at the time, and also for the fantastic music throughout. Takes a while to tune your ear to the dialogue, as mentioned, but you are not left clueless to the plot, and some of the gritty camera work makes it believable without even trying. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 28 October 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The fore-runner to much grimy crime-filled, music-infused working class drama, this is gritty and well-written.

If there's a theme as such, it's about the fragility of being an outsider group, closer-knit than the general populace, but therefore more likely to blow apart spectacularly. The film is based around the Jamaican reggae community of Brixton, and a group of lads who are loud, but don't start out as dangerous, yet as frustrations and outside pressures of racism and victimisation build, they lash back internally and externally. The uneasy presence of one white boy in the group becomes more of an issue and the more hot-headed members increase the friction with the local community. Gradually the hero of the piece, initially the most reasonable, hits the whirlpool and gets dragged down to oblivion.

Unlike much that has followed it, it leaves you with a lot to think about, rather than a Guy Richie sense of just being carried by action and atmousphere. It loses a star because there are quite long sections, particularly at the start where the dialogue is, to an outsider, approaching impenetrable. Although this doesn't distract much from the message, it is, perhaps deliberately, excluding.
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on 1 February 2009
One of the only films that accurately depicted life for Black British youth in early 80's UK. Also shows clips of the legendary Jah Shaka sound who is still going strong to this day plenty stamina !! Buy this piece of history you won't be disappointed !
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on 15 January 2009
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This film is the reggae/dub equivalent of Quadrophenia - the disenchanted youth finding a place in a world that is very different to their parents. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic
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VINE VOICEon 11 November 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm with a lot of the other reviewers on this - unless you are familiar wiht heavy Jamacian accents and slang a lot of the dialogue in this film will be difficult to follow. This was certainly true for me. However, i found this less of a problem that you might expect as the story was clearly and concisely told regardless of the nuances of the words.

This was not an easy watch, Early 80's was a tense time for racial relations and this film does not shirk from that. A lot of racist remarks in this film are very strong and leave you wincing, there is also a fair amount of stereotyping as well - both to the protagonists but also to the police, the families, ministers etc. Put these issues to one side though and you are left with a powerful film. The ominous build towards something terrible happening is handled really well. It brought to mind more recent films - especially La Haine - in this respect.

Though I'm not an especially big reggae fan, there is no denying that the soundtrack is also very powerful and i found my feet tapping to some of the tunes.

It was also interesting to see actors we consider more as comedians now - Mel Smith, Karl Howman and 'that chap from Hollyoaks' - as younger men in dramtic roles.

I'd also say that the film was less violent than I expected and much more a meditation on a theme.

Overall, i am not sure that i enjoyed watching it as such but I certainly am glad that I did and I recognise it as a well made dramatic film and one I think lots of people should see.

This was a Vine copy so had no features/subtitles etc...
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on 30 October 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although initially watching Babylon I will admit to being slightly adrift from some of the cultural references contained within the movie, but it did not take long to get absorbed into this mature drama with many great performances from a mostly young cast.

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.

Like all good realistic dramas, it manages to be both amusing at times as well as hard-hitting and tragic. I took it as not so much a commentary on society, rather than striving to be an honest portrayal. Although some things do make this look like a product of its time, it is still very relevant today and generally doesn't seem to have aged badly at all.
Some of the personal verbal abuse (racism) that is uttered by some characters seems to stick out and sound surprising. Hopefully the fact that it is noticeable and slightly shocking to hear means that we have in general become at least a little more culturally tolerant nearly three decades later.

The film has been called the quintessential British reggae film and I would certainly struggle to think of another movie like it; and yes it does have a groovy reggae soundtrack.
Even though this film may not have been my first choice for something to watch, I'm very glad I did. Not only is it still fairly unique as a film experience, it also shows a group of young actors delivering great material with great performances.
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