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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Babylon [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 17 July 2017
While there seems little to add to the discussions regarding the film ,I think for those who saw this on a rare ch4 showing or have a copy from vhs it can without any doubt be recommended for the real improvements in visual clarity and colour range ,also a worthwhile chat track and Q&A +subtitles ,also an interesting item about the restoration of the film & for those who haven't seen it, take a musical & social trip back to the London of 1980 & see what you think.
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on 3 September 2016
gd movie i watched this last week on London Live. and i enjoyed it so much that i had 2 go out an buy the dvd. got a q&a with the actors talkin about the film and a restoration featurette.
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on 16 April 2017
Seen many times. The only sad thing is this version has bits missing which I saw on another version. It still does not spoil the enjoyment.
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on 26 June 2017
It's ok enjoyable to watch
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on 19 July 2017
Good old days
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on 25 June 2015
Reminds me of back in the day in the late 80s early 90s scene .Good movie
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VINE VOICEon 2 November 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( 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.
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on 21 March 2015
Mother liked it very old fashioned
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 15 January 2009
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 October 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really wanted to like this film, but I didn't really enjoy it as I had problems understanding the dialogue at times - a large proportion is spoken in Jamaican patois - which made it difficult to follow the plot and sympathise with the characters. Not very cool of me, I know - I had to use the English subtitles to help!

Brinsley Forde (of 'Aswad' fame, and as readers of a certain age will remember, also appeared on 'Double Deckers' back in the day) gives a great performance, and 'Brush Strokes' fans may be interested in the appearance of a much younger, slightly podgy Karl Howman. The soundtrack music consists of some really nice dub tracks which really bring back memories of the time forr me. There's also some fun to be had recognising parts of Brixton and other parts of London, if you knew the area back in the early 80s.

But I can't really recommend this film unless you have more than just a passing acquaintance with West Indian slang, as it's frustratingly difficult following the plot without it. My friends' attention was soon wavering from the movie to other things after half an hour had passed.

For collectors, this is the first opportunity to get this film on DVD for quite some time. Some racial insults are made during this film that might be a bit much for some.
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