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.
UK | Italy, 1980, 95 minutes, Not Rated, Directed by Franco Rosso
"Assertive and ebullient, Babylon is as alive as a movie can be.”– Los Angeles Times
"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."– New Yorker Magazine
"A rich, gorgeously shot film."– Forbes
"A Jamaican-British version of Scorsese’s Mean Streets...with its vivid cinematography, incredible soundtrack, and powerful message, it became a cult flick for Jamaicans and reggae heads around the world."– Hyperallergic