my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Babylon
Director:   Franco Rosso
Year:   1980
Genre:   Non-Musical Music Film
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   05.12.24

Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
05.12.24Internet I stumbled across this when I was looking up info on Rockers. It's a 1980 British film about the sound systems in Brixton and South London and the racial tension and police brutality that oppressed them. It's a little bit Juice, a little bit Do The Right Thing, a little bit Boyz n the Hood, set to dancehall and dub reggae. According to the Internet, it was pretty hard to see prior to 2019 when it finally had a re-release since it didn't open in US back in the day due to controversy and fears that it would incite riots.

Maybe because we're now post- all those other movies I mentioned but I felt like the level of riot-inciting-ness was relatively low here. Yes it has a handful of gut punch scenes dealing with racism and the end scene (definitely the best scene in the movie) ends on a blistering note, but I feel like other movies have been more overtly provocative in that regard in the years since (not to mention a bunch of 70s movies that, while not dealing with race per se, still had super fucking bummers of unfair endings jamming their thumb in your eye as you left the theater or drive-in. And also, early 80s audiences may not have understood enough of the patois to get enraged enough to riot anyway.

I don't want to devalue the power of the film though. It's rare that a movie delivers such an honest and raw take on a scene. All but one white role in this is openly racist (even the albino from Princess Bride) and the movie really puts you in the shoes of the main character feeling the frustration and desperation come to a boiling point. And it's got some great music.

So this one's not quite as feel-good as Rockers but no less worth watching. I took my own advice from last time and turned the subtitles off to good effect here. I was worried I'd have heavy Bri'ish slang to decipher along with the Jamaican patois but I got the hang of both before too long at all. The music is still the star though, with a handful of dub tunes and a score by Dennis Bovell (AKA Blackbeard). And for the end scene when they have the sound clash you get some footage of Shaka in full effect. For someone who's clearly not of that culture, it's a brief glimpse of how cool it must've been to be there. All those home-made speakers booming and effects boxes layered over the music with the controller toasting over everything. Very cool.

So yeah, I enjoyed this quite a bit. Maybe a harder watch than some others but what feels like a real glimpse of the early 80s brixton west indian culture.