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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "La radio pirata" or "Young Soul Rebels: la radio pirata")


directed by Isaac Julien
UK/France/Germany 1991


In the long hot summer of 1977, London prepared for the Silver Jubilee celebrations to the sounds of the burgeoning punk, soul and funk scenes.

Soul boys Chris (Valentine Nonyela) and Caz (Mo Sessay), a pair of pirate radio DJs, broadcast their show from a friend's garage, tussling with the local skinheads, and clubbing with Chris's sassy music-industry girlfriend Tracy (Sophie Okonedo).

But social and sexual tensions in the community reach boiling point following the murder of a local black gay man.

With its soulful soundtrack - with Funkadelic, X-Ray Spex. Parliament, Sylvester and more - and enthusiastic young cast, this Cannes Critics' Week prize-winner is an engaging and sensitive drama from acclaimed artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE


Theatrical Release: August 9th, 1991 (UK)

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 0 - PAL

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Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:40:24 (4% PAL speedup)

1.77:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 9.13 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital PCM 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.77:1

Edition Details:
• Original Trailer
• Illustrated Color Booklet

DVD Release Date: November 9th, 2009
Keep Case

Chapters 12



To celebrate Black History Month, the British Film Institute is releasing Isaac Julien's "Young Soul Rebels". This is the third film of Julien's that the BFI has released, and like his other works it deals with themes of gay, black, and British identity. However, these themes become muddled in the film as the director seemingly tries to accomplish too much for the films 105 minute run time. The chief reason for this is the inclusion of the film's murder mystery. Although it is by no means the central aspect of the story, it feels like more of a distracting misfire. The identity of the killer is fairly obvious from early on, and pays off in an all too obvious way. The film works better when it focuses on its two protagonists. Here too, there are aspects that don't work or seem unrealistic, but the hits outnumber the misses in these scenes, and their journey is more than worthy of its own film. While we're on the subject of the film's positive aspects, I would be remiss not to mention its infectious soundtrack. While the music here may not be for all, the 70's funk and soul more than won me over.

The film looks quite good here, perhaps even better than the caps do justice. Although the film is almost 20 years old now, the print used for the master here shows almost no signs of wear (there are a few damage marks that make a very brief appearance at a little over an hour into the film). Colors typically look quite strong, with some of the more vibrant reds looking exceptional. Flesh tones look realistic and there are no signs of artificial enhancements or manipulations on this dual layered disc.

For a film that's so heavily invested in the music of the era, one would hope that a good deal of effort would be put into creating a vibrant and powerful sound mix. Fortunately, this disc does not disappoint as the audio is quite good here. The PCM 2.0 mix really brings the music alive and the dialogue is always crisp, clear, and free of all unwanted background noise. The subtitles are optional, but only come in English for the deaf and hearing impaired. Like other BFI discs, they're white and intentionally unobtrusive.

The only extra on the disc is the trailer, but the 24 page booklet provides us with an adequate amount of information and a few gorgeous production photos to boot. Here we find an essay by Stephen Bourne on Julien and the film's reception, as well as two pieces by Julien himself. One was originally written at the time of the film's release and the second is a reflection on it 18 years later.

While I suppose that I wasn't the biggest fan of the film, enjoying perhaps half of it, I understand why it appeals to some and those who enjoy Julien's work won't be disappointed. Recommended.

 - Brian Montgomery


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