Arts & Culture
BFI Player screens controversial drama ‘Babylon’
28 December 2020
Franco Rosso’s incendiary Babylon had its world premiere at Cannes in 1980 but the New York Film Festival deemed it “too controversial, and likely to incite racial tension”.
Raw and smoldering, it follows a young reggae DJ (Brinsley Forde, frontman of landmark British group Aswad) in Thatcher-era Brixton as he pursues his musical ambitions, battling fiercely against the racism and xenophobia of employers, neighbors, police, and the National Front.
Written by Martin Stellman (Quadrophenia) and shot by two-time Oscar® winner Chris Menges (The Killing Fields) with beautiful, smoky cinematography that’s been compared to Taxi Driver, Babylon is fearless and unsentimental, yet tempered by the hazy bliss of the dancehall set to a blistering reggae, dub, and lovers rock soundtrack anchored by legendary producer Dennis Bovell’s (The Slits) atmospheric score.
Shot on location in areas such as Deptford and Elephant & Castle, Franco Rosso’s cult classic pulsates with an irresistible dub soundtrack, capturing South London’s Sound System culture expertly.
Director: Franco Rosso
Writers: Franco Rosso, Martin Stellman
Main Actor: Brinsley Forde
Rated: 15 (contains strong language, moderate violence and racism themes)
NB: Membership to BFI Player is via subscription – 14-day free trial, then £4.99 a month