London: The Modern Babylon (2012) Film Review


Julien Temple has compiled a whole series of images from over a century of film footage to create this fast-paced, exciting representation of London. But it is not just the quality or the amount of footage that makes this an amazing film; it’s the way he juxtaposes the images.  Images of riots from the early twentieth century compared to the recent riots in 2011 or black-and-white footage of children playing the alleyways next to modern kids. It leave a feeling that London is as it ever was – lively and aggressive.

The footage is broken up with interviews from a wide range of Londoners, from Suggs to Ray Davies to Michael Horowitz. The only issue I had with it was the use of a mysterious ‘control room’ scene, like a security office with a whole series of CCTV feeds, that was used to connect scenes. It was odd and just didn’t work for me. Still, the rest of the film was so utterly compelling and hypnotic that I overlooked those scenes.

London: The Modern Babylon is playing at ACMI through until September 10. For bookings, visit ACMI.

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