Showing posts with label popular culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label popular culture. Show all posts

24 October 2012

London: The Modern Babylon DVD Review

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With 2012, Diamond Jubilee, Para-Olympics, Olympic Games and all, placing London under the gaze of the world’s media; London: The Modern Babylon gives the capital city another chance to take centre-stage.

Julien Temple’s kaleidoscopic ode to London mixes archive footage with interviews, film and television clips, documenting its history throughout the Twentieth Century up to the present day, from idyllic Edwardian summers, through war, immigration, rock and roll, and boom and bust. Temple mixes his footage, juxtaposing his images to create a fluid tableau of events covering the last hundred years or so. Early Twentieth Century immigrants appear alongside their modern day counterparts, suffragettes and Mary Jane’s Mishap, accounts of racial tension and class divides with the voyeuristic first-person filter of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. From 1905 to 2012 it’s a glimpse at a city which has changed immeasurably over the decades, but still retains an enduring sense of identity.

As is to be expected from the man who helmed such films as The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle and Oil City Confidential, music plays a pivotal role in the creation of this two hour, London-centric collage. Footage of bombed-out terraces and air-raid shelters roll along to the beat of Mr Churchill Says, while riots and anti-war demos (not surprisingly) dance to the tune of Street Fighting Man. The result is an entrancing amalgam of sights and sounds that feels immensely substantial, pertinent and raw, even if so much of this trip down memory lane might really be old news.

The stars of the show are without question the city’s inhabitants. Tony Benn, and the late Malcolm McLaren pop up to wax lyrical about their home town, along with numerous commoners who have made the city their home over the years. It’s an intriguing and expressive way of reinforcing the notion that an organisation is only as good as its people.

London may receive an inordinate amount of exposure in comparison to this nation’s other cities of note, but Temple’s ability to weave and create such an alluring, musical, rhythmic tribute should be of interest to even those who hail from very distant towns.

Chris Banks (@Chris_in_2D)


UK DVD Release Date:29th October 2012
Directed by: Julien Temple
Cast: Michael Gambon, Hetty Bower , Miss Marsh , Tony Benn
Buy:London: The Modern BabylonOn DVD