Mainstream cinematic trends come and go, but experimental film – or artists’ film, as some prefer it – trundles along regardless. With its disconnected footage of urban landscapes, its portentous voiceover and its focus on human interaction in the machine age, ‘Babeldom’ could have been made pretty much any time since the mid-’60s (a handful of digital graphic sequences notwithstanding). This is a mixed blessing: on the one hand, it feels comfortably familiar – we know where we are with this sort of essay film. On the other, it does feel a mite predictable – there are few ideas which haven’t been explored before, whether in similar contexts or in decades of science fiction.
As a purely sensory experience, it’s frequently engaging: a series of journeys through winding tunnels set to caterwauling operatic music create an unsettling sense of a voyage into some unknown future. But as a philosophical statement it lacks freshness, and voiceover artist Mark Caven’s overcooked delivery doesn’t help. One for fans of the form, perhaps.