The Babylon Movie is invaluable even if it just offered was a window to reggae sound system culture of South London circa 1980. Franco Rosso’s Babylon is substantially more than that. It is basically an English Cousin earlier Jamaica-set films The Harder They Come and Rockers. But it is though superior than it. It is vastly superior in cinematic terms and is also valuable as a cultural document. Nearly after four decades of its Cannes premiere, the picture is finally getting US distribution via Kino Lorber.
A new label also called Seventy Seven launched in New York city exhibition insider Gabriele Caroti is also in that distribution. It also deserves a robust welcome as it brings the start of summer or spring tour of art houses in America. Aswad singer Brinsley Forde is leading the ensemble as Blue whose Ital Lion sound system is a leading crew in the city. He used to work in a local garage with buddy Ronnie (Karl Howman) of the city.
“Babylon”: The Controversial 1980 Reggae Drama Film-
He was the only white guy in his friend circle. But when the post racist’s boss fires him then the precariousness of life for a black man in Thatcher’s England gets really hard to ignore. The film was co-written by Quadrophenia’s Martin Stellman and also the Oscar winner Chris Menges (The Killing Fields, The Mission) also lensed it vividly. It follows Blue and his mates through the slice of life episodes. It really strings scenes together in much of its plot. One group member (played by Archie Pool) haggles with an importer over new records his rivals.
A hot-tempered one called Beefy (Trevor Laird) is showing his increasing unwillingness to other cheeks at the racist taunts. The group joins most of the more straight laced members of the immigrant community for a party celebrating Lover’s (Victor Romero Evans) engagement to marry Sandra (Beverley Dublin). With the mounting of aggression from both the cops and also the white brits who have apartments near the group garage rehearsal space, Babylon doesn’t spoon-feed the viewers of the movie.
It is assumed that the viewers understand the politics in the play and also that ‘NF’ scrawled near the housing block walls referring to fascist group National Front. In a welcoming concession, the restoration provides subtitles for the dialogue’s heavy Jamaican Patois. Though Americans will be guessing the meaning of “claat,” It is an apparently multi-purpose slang word which is often paired with “blood” and rarely used affectionately. Though the movie saves it’s the live club at both the opening and closing of the movie.
The closing sequence was an inspiration from the actual violent raced party. Babylo0n spills over with killer reggae on the sound track. The music feeling is also very different in the urban context while it does in The Harder They Come. In the particularly vulnerable moment, the all but homeless Blue finds himself wandering into an intense Rastafarians. The leader invites him to “let these herbs…heal your troubled mind.” Anybody who thinks that it is a shallow suggestion to get high and is willing to forget the world’s cares is probably watching the wrong movie.