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Franco Rosso

Born, 1942 in Italy

Babylon is a feature film made in 1980 by Italian-born director Franco Rosso. Set in London, its multiple narratives center on the trials and tribulations of a young man known as Blue. Blue finds escape from the drudgery of his job as a mechanic, the multiple difficulties of his home and family life, and general societal hostility and indifference, by operating, with a group of his friends, a ‘sound system’. That is, a reggae music sound system that ‘clashes’ with rival sound systems in dance halls and community centers, playing, in turns, to appreciative or dismissive crowds of highly partisan revellers. Throughout the film, Blue frequently comes across, or is portrayed, as a tormented individual never truly at peace with himself or the world around him. He encounters racism, misunderstanding, hostility and authoritarianism in his struggle to come of age and live as a man. The film follows Blue as his life spirals out of control, despite the affection of his girlfriend and the antics of the motley crew who are his circle of friends and associates. The film, his beloved sound system, and Blue’s life itself, all head for one terrible and dreadful climax. The London in which the film is set is a bleak, desolate, joyless, miserable and menacing place, and well matches the moods and struggles of the appropriately named Blue, played by Brinsley Forde of veteran British reggae group, Aswad. Driven along by a memorable soundtrack, Babylon effectively captures the struggles and the uncertainties, as well as the formidable challenges facing emergent Black Britain, at a time of economic bleakness.

Link to an online interview with the makers of the film: www.channel4.com/film/reviews/feature.jsp?id=168965