London: The Modern Babylon

London: The Modern Babylon

Julien Temple sifts through the British Film Institute's archives to create a candid portrait of the UK capital, featuring footage of the London riots. 3.8 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
London: The Modern Babylon

Omniscore:

Certificate 15
Genre Documentary
Director Julien Temple
Cast .
Studio BFI Distribution
Release Date August 2012
Running Time 128 mins
 

Julien Temple sifts through the British Film Institute's archives to create a candid portrait of the UK capital, featuring footage of the London riots.

Reviews

Time Out

Dave Calhoun

The film takes a chronological tour from the 1890s to now. But its edits are quick and playful and it delights in juxtaposing old and new, dropping Underworld over the Edwardian era or the Sex Pistols over the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. There are voices known (Tony Benn, Ray Davies) and unknown (Hetty Bower, a radical 107-year-old from Hackney), but Temple reserves a central place for music, and his film reaches its height in terms of rhythm and ideas when it arrives at his own specialist patch: the seismic cultural shifts of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

01/08/2012

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The Times

Wendy Ide

The way Temple paints it, the city is a constantly evolving organism nourished and energised by each new wave of immigrants. But, while it is a film infused with hope and love for London, it doesn’t shy away from the city’s uglier tendencies: the racism, the rioting. Even so, Temple celebrates the power of the mob and the city’s healthy aptitude for dissent. Ultimately, he argues, the division between the rich and poor in modern London cuts far deeper than any racial or cultural divide. Immersive, playful and brilliantly researched and edited, this is a real treat.

03/08/2012

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Total Film

Tom Dawson

The stuff of BNP nightmares.

24/07/2012

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The Financial Times

Nigel Andrews

The film is as awesome as a Taj Mahal built of matchsticks, and some detractors might say as pointless. Documentarist Temple, unlike Derek Jarman or Terence Davies, whose Liverpool film Of Time and the City was a brilliantly focused social-history kaleidoscope, has no evident viewpoint. The apparent theme is the contribution to London of immigrants, artists, rebels and other “outsiders”. But any grist will do for the mill, from the siege of Sidney Street to the Sex Pistols, from the suffragettes to the Brixton riots, and Temple doesn’t add cogency with moments of waggish “satire”.

02/08/2012

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

Violence and the mob is a subject to which Temple returns, and he is perhaps guilty of nostalgifying and romanticising this kind of disorder. Watching this film, I began to wonder if periodic outbreaks of violence are simply the inevitable price of cramming people together: the racist violence of the Notting Hill riots in 1958, the Poll Tax riots of 1990, the looting of 2011 – all symptoms of the same strange, dark dysfunction that also gives us explosions of music, poetry and art ... Temple's film is refreshingly free of cliché. A very heady experience.

02/08/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

It's essentially a hopeful film about a vibrant city forever renewing itself. The imaginatively chosen music takes in the cockney knees-up of The Lambeth Walk, the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK and the genteel romanticism of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. A movie to cherish.

05/08/2012

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

Temple begins his account with a marvellous 106-year-old Hackney woman named Hetty, reliving memories of Kitchener's hateful mug and her own part in the 1936 Battle of Cable Street. An old cockney geezer and a Caribbean wheeler-dealer also add their vivid twopenn'orth. A lot more of them and a bit less of Tony Benn and Michael Horovitz would have been welcome.

03/08/2012

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The Sunday Times

Edward Porter

It’s mainly a standard account, but there are wonderful highlights, both in the interviews and in Temple’s romanticising flourishes.

05/08/2012

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