The movie centers around Brindsley Forde's character blue. He fronts a reggae sound system based in west London. The movie captures the trials and tribulations of young black youths in troubled London in the early eighties.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David N. Haynes ...
Errol
Trevor Laird ...
Beefy
Victor Romero Evans ...
Lover
Brian Bovell ...
Scientist
Archie Pool ...
Dreadhead
Brinsley Forde ...
Blue
Karl Howman ...
Ronnie
Beverley Michaels ...
Elaine (as Beverly Michaels)
Ann Duncan ...
Beefy's Girl
Beverley Dublin ...
Sandra
King Sounds ...
Compere
Cynthia Powell ...
Mum
T-Bone Wilson ...
Wesley (as T.Bone Wilson)
...
Carlton
Vilma Hollingbery ...
Lady in Street
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Storyline

Babylon follows the story of David, a working class musician and black man in South East London. By day he works as a mechanic, at night David is a Mic controller at a local dance hall. The film centers around the racial divide of London in the 80's, the lack of opportunities available to black people and poverty. David loses his job, gets beaten up and charged by the police, forcing him to go on the run. Then breaking up with his girlfriend, all of his frustrations culminate in the stabbing of a racist neighbour. Written by John Mulholland

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Drama

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Release Date:

22 August 1981 (Denmark)  »

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Technical Specs

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(Technicolor)|
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shaka directed the scene in which he appeared. See more »

Goofs

This is likely to be a 'deliberate error by the film-makers', but in one scene you see two characters putting up a poster advertising a gig. The date shown is Saturday 23rd December (year unspecified). The nearest year that this date fell on was 1978, which is 2 years before the film was released. It is possible that various anachronisms in the film may occur due to this, for example release dates of records, or registration number plates of new cars. See more »

Quotes

Alan: Oi!
Blue: What?
Alan: D'you wanna know something?
Blue: What?
Alan: You got too much of this.
[mouth]
Blue: Yeah?
Alan: Yeah.
Alan: Especially for a coon. I don't like moneys who get too clever in my garage. In other words son, you're fucking out. D'you understand?
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User Reviews

 
Dated , In Need Of Subtitles But Still A Gritty Film
4 March 2014 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Nice to see via the comments and the message board that this film was held in high regard . I remember it well . It's one of those tough , gritty realist type movies broadcast late night on Channel 4 sometime in the late 1980s when that particular channel was interested in showcasing challenging home grown talent . In those days my peers and myself would nearly always be watching movies on VHS cassette and would involve people with American accents suffering terrible and gory deaths via mad axemen and monsters . It'd be a novelty in seeing a serious film , never mind a British produced one and this type of movie in look and feel would be occasionally attempted by Ken Loach or Alan Clarke . That said perhaps the novelty of seeing BABYLON gave it a reputation that possibly isn't that deserved

As I started to watch it again I really found asking myself I'd be able to make it all the way through to the end credits down to one reason - the characters talk in heavy Jamaican tones . I did recognise the Jamaican phrase for " Good afternoon . How are you my friend ? " which is " Hey mon " but after that I was totally puzzled as to the conversations taking place . Just about every black character in the film talks like that with the ironic exception of the one bloke who does look like he's just stepped off the boat from Kingston and you're now able to understand what's going on to an extent. Nice to know he also has a white friend because that means there's at least two people I can understand . There's other white people too but they're incapable of opening their mouths without a tirade of racial insults spewing from it . And this is the problem with BABYLON - there's hardly one single likable or sympathetic character in it and is rather dated in every aspect

One can see the point the film is making . It was produced in 1980 , the year before the Brixton riots and a time when institutionalized racism was the norm and what BABYLON deserves very great credit for is in its sophistication in not painting society as " White people = rabid racist oppressors , Black people = poor innocent victims " . What I mean by this is that several white characters mouth racist insults but you see them having a motive for being angry . A mechanic walks out in the middle of work earning the ire of his employer . If the boss was truly racist would he have given a black kid a job in the first place ? A group of reggae fans are having all night parties in a lock up garage thereby upsetting the residents nearby . Now if the actions were done by a group of white chavs the outcome would possibly have the same outcome ? The police are painted as racist bully boys but you'd to have to a very naive reader of The Daily Mail not to believe there's a large element of truth in this especially taking on board the location and the period it's set in and explains to an extent the motives of most of the black characters who do have very large chips on their shoulders. This level of sophistication where the audience are allowed to make up their own minds as to the causes of racism or indeed if we're racist simply because we're human and want to belong to our own tribe is left open ended but is striking in the refreshing and ambiguous way it's put forward . Also interesting that a couple of characters are portrayed as being violent " queer bashers " and if you really want to really confuse and upset a bleeding heart liberal just show a couple of black guys beating up a homosexual . You wouldn't get that in EASTENDERS

BABYLON isn't a great film and because of the language problem makes it rather inaccessible for a mainstream audience along with the dated look . It is however a good example of a British realist drama and despite being a political film is thankfully free of the political overstatement that Loach might have brought to the story . I've also had a look at the resume of the director Franco Rosso and was surprised and a little sad that his career didn't really progress beyond this movie because with a couple of more films under his belt I'd be very interested in seeing what sort of director he'd be like as he matured . As it stands BABYLON seems a career highlight of a far too short career


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