One of the most highly regarded cult British films of the 1980s, Babylon comes to DVD for the first time ever in the UK this October courtesy of Icon Home Entertainment, boasting fully restored and remastered image and audio (personally overseen by Chris Menges) plus Audio Commentaries, Interviews and feature on the restoration.
Directed by Franco Rosso (Dread Beat an’ Blood), co-written (with Rosso) by Martin Stellman (Quadrophenia; Defence Of The Realm; For Queen And Country), photographed by two-time Oscar winner Chris Menges (The Mission; The Killing Fields) and starring celebrated reggae star and Aswad frontman Brinsley Forde (Here Come The Double Deckers), Karl Howman (Brush Strokes; Mulberry) and Trevor Laird (Doctor Who; Quadrophenia), Babylon is a raw and incendiary film employing an effective mix of music and social commentary to recount the everyday experiences of a small group of working class black youths living in South London in the early 1980s.
Mechanic and part-time sound system ‘toaster’ Blue (Brinsley Forde) and his Ital Lion crew are looking forward to their forthcoming reggae sound clash competition with rival outfit Jah Shaka. But as the event approaches, Blue’s personal life begins to unravel. First he’s fired from his job by his racist boss (played by Mel Smith) and then he begins to suspect his girlfriend is cheating on him. A further series of unpleasant racist incidents – including Blue being chased, brutally beaten and arrested by a group of plain-clothes policemen – culminates in Ital Lion’s lock-up garage being broken into and their sound equipment being destroyed. Increasingly angered and alienated by what he perceives to be society’s rejection of his race and his culture, Blue is compelled to respond by fighting fire with fire.
Driven by a musical score composed and arranged by legendary reggae guitarist, former member of Matumbi and record producer (The Thompson Twins, Madness) Dennis Bovell, with additional songs by Yabby U, I-Roy and Aswad, Babylon is a brilliant, breathlessly energetic, neo-realist snapshot of what it was like to be young, poor and black in early 1980s Britain, Babylon remains as socially relevant today as it was almost 30 years ago.
Here’s the trailer.
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