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SOLD OUT – Babylon

Franco Rosso

Franco Rosso’s incendiary Babylon had its world premiere at Cannes in 1980 but went unreleased in the U.S. for “being too controversial, and likely to incite racial tension” (Vivien Goldman, Time Out). Raw and smoldering, it follows a young dancehall DJ (Brinsley Forde, frontman of landmark British reggae group Aswad) in South London 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 beautifully smoky cinematography that has been compared to Taxi Driver, Babylon is fearless and unsentimental, yet tempered by the hazy bliss of the dancehall set to a blistering reggae and lovers rock soundtrack featuring Aswad, Johnny Clarke, Dennis Bovell, and more.

“CRITIC’S PICK. Babylon is a 39-year-old nugget of a movie about young British Jamaicans and their itinerant reggae scene built around sound systems, freestyling and parties with rich, low lighting. Just as seminal an entry in the English “angry young man” sweepstakes as the plays, novels and movies about alienation made in the 1960s. Babylon amounts to something that still feels new. You’re looking at people who, in 1980 England, were, at last, being properly, seriously seen.” — Wesley Morris, The New York Times

“Assertive and ebullient, Babylon is as alive as a movie can be to the everyday mesh of liberating art, humorous camaraderie and hazardous political reality. Dennis Bovell’s reggae soundtrack…is a master class of mood — a sonic heartbeat full of joy, pain and fury, the needle drops like matches struck and the music an insistent, scented flame you hear, see and feel.” — Robert Abele, The Los Angeles Times

“Like the reggae music that pulses through it, Babylon is rich, rough and real. And like the street life of the young black Londoners it portrays, it’s threatening, touching, violent and funny. This one seems to explode in the gut with a powerful mix of pain and pleasure.”
— Variety

“Invaluable. Spills over with killer reggae on its soundtrack. Nearly four decades after its Cannes premiere, the pic is finally getting US distribution… it deserves a robust welcome.” — John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

“Babylon does more than borrow the music, fashion, or world view of reggae. It embodies the ethos of the music—and it feels like a song, swaying from a clever joke to fire and brimstone, conveying a message less through language than through the passage of sound waves through bodies. ” — Hua Hsu, The New Yorker

“A STORY WITH LITERALLY EPIC STAKES. It’s no surprise why the film may resonate now—its themes of finding community through art and trying to exist in a society that doesn’t want you are unfortunately both timeless and extremely current.”? — Jaya Saxena, GQ

“Babylon is a British cult classic [with an] irresistibly danceable dub soundtrack…a beautiful time capsule that shines a light on the vibrant underground culture that existed in early 80s south London.” — Oliver Lunn, BFI

“The 1980 cult classic considered by many to be the great U.K. reggae movie.” — David Fear, Rolling Stone

“It became a cult hit, resonating with reggae heads and black Londonites far before America experienced similar honesties with Do the Right Thing.” — Noel Ransome, Vice

Showing

  • 8/21 | 8:00PM
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