LONDON – THE MODERN BABYLON is director Julien Temple’s epic time-travelling voyage to the heart of his hometown. From musicians, writers and artists to dangerous thinkers, political radicals and above all ordinary people, this is the story of London's immigrants, its bohemians and how together they changed the city forever. Reaching back to the dawn of film in London at the start of the 20th century, the story unfolds through film archive, voices of Londoners past and present and the flow of popular music across the century; a stream of urban consciousness, like the river which flows through its heart.

Director's Statement

This project gave me a unique opportunity to dig deep into the cultural roots and fantastic archive of our capital. More time travel than history lesson, I wanted to portray London in full character without judgment, showing its brutality alongside its glory. Rebellion and riots are part of the DNA of London – but so is redemption and reunion. Nowhere else in the world has undergone a cultural metamorphosis as profound and extreme as that which has taken place in London since the Second World War. What was then still the capital of the greatest empire the world has ever seen is now a city defined by those very citizens over whom that empire once ruled. The city in which many of us were born and grew up has gone. In what some see as a slow motion cultural coup d'état taking place invisibly around us, the rest of the world has come to London and its very psyche has been turned inside out. LONDON – THE MODERN BABYLON is my personal take on London’s journey through the last 100 years to make it the city it is now. No one knows what London will be tomorrow. The city’s future is unpredictable. This film celebrates its multi-cultural present as the first truly global metropolis in history.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Julien Temple

Produced by: Amanda Temple, Stephen Malit

Cinematography: Steve Organ

Editing: Caroline Richards

Original Score: JC Carroll

Nominations and Awards

  • European Documentary 2012