LONDON: THE MODERN BABYLON
Director: Julien Temple
Producer: Julien Temple, Stephen Malit, Amanda Temple, Rosa Bosch (co-producer), George Hencken (co-producer)
Seen recently in cinemas and on BBC TV, legendary director Julien Temple's enthusiastically received LONDON The Modern Babylon is released on DVD by the BFI on 29 October. Narrated through a century of music and film archive treasures, this incredibly moving and compelling film that requires repeat viewing tells the story of London's epic journey through 100 years of cultural upheaval and reinvention, from the birth of the 20th century to the year in which it has been on show to the world as host of the 2012 Olympic Games.
LONDON The Modern Babylon is a kaleidoscope of TV and film clips, photos, graffiti and paintings, poetry extracts, advertising images and album covers, even some home movies contributed by the public, assembled in layers just as London has been endlessly layered over by new arrivals and new influences. From 1890s hand cranked black and white 35mm, through early 16mm home movies in the late 20’s, Super 8mm film in the 50’s and 60’s, VHS in the 80’s, mini DV in the 90’s to today’s high Def, each format evokes the period in which it was shot, dramatically foregrounding how the
old, monochrome London has exploded into vivid multicultural colour.
With archive producer Miriam Walsh, Julien Temple and his team including producers Amanda Temple, Stephen Malit, Rosa Bosch and George Hencken, cinematographer Stephen Organ and editor Caroline Richards tackled a mammoth number of hours of archive material from over a thousand sources. Along with freshly shot footage, they began the assembly of a rich collage, glued together by interviews with contemporary London characters. Among the line-up of familiar faces are David Bowie, Ray Davies, Bishi, Mick Jagger, Michael Caine, Tony Benn, Malcolm McLaren, the Royal Family, various Prime Ministers of the last century as well as the ordinary people of London from all walks of life.
Building on Julien’s experience in directing Music Videos, the film is energized by an extrodinary soundtrack spanning 100 years of London music including iconic tracks from the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Small Faces, Lily Allen, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, The Kinks, Madness and Bob Marley through toTommy Trinder, Max Bygraves, Vera Lynn, Lonnie Donnegan, Murray Johnson, Rolf Harris and Robert Burns, plus many more.
Rocking back and forth in time and texture, the film’s themes resonate through the last centry: oppression and despair, division and rioting, accommodation and union. London has seen these patterns repeat with small mutations again and again, and each time the city emerges a little healthier into a new era of social change.
A swooning, punch-drunk love letter to one of the world’s greatest cities, “London: The Modern Babylon” unspools a magnificent collage of vintage and original material, offering a rousing unofficial history of Blighty’s capitol...
Julien Temple has created a brilliant, exhaustive and exhausting clip-collage, a visually throbbing cine-quilt that basically proves the Sex Pistols got their most famous title wrong. It's Anarchy in London, not Anarchy in the UK. London is where the dense swirl of creativity, energy and violence is to be found. In comparison, the rest of the country is placid and dull. It's arguably a bit more subversive than Danny Boyle's masterly Olympic opener – though perhaps no less heartfelt...