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Film Fest 2011 - Fire In Babylon


Fire in Babylon
UK 2010
Director: Stevan Riley
Producers: Charles Steel, John Battsek
Photography: Stuart Bentley
Editor: Peter Haddon

With: Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Colin Croft, Deryck Murray, Hilary Beckles

Festivals: London 2010; Tribeca 2011

87 minutes

Stevan Riley's exuberant documentary is much more than just a cricket film. In fact, the story of the West Indies' late 70s ascension from happy-go-lucky 'calypso cricketers' to world beaters is such riotous fun that you won't need to know your googlies from your bouncers to get a big kick out of it. New interviews with players such as inspirational captain Clive Lloyd, fast bowler Michael Holding and the ice cool Viv Richards bring vintage test match footage to vibrant life. Unfolding as a classic underdog tale, Riley's film places the narrative firmly within the civil rights movement and nascent reggae-powered Caribbean nationalism. Steeled by colonial oppression, Lloyd instilled an uncompromising attitude in his charges, subverting the old elite and leading the Windies to strike back in historic victories over England and Australia by the end of the decade. Though they did lose an acrimonious series in New Zealand in 1980 (not mentioned in this film, ahem), their 15-year unbeaten run remains unsurpassed. - MM
"The West Indies players were part of a generation determined to prove themselves against their former colonial masters& When the English captain of the era, Tony Greig, infamously boasted in 1976 that he would make the West Indies 'grovel,' they made him eat his words. There is comedy, pathos and violence in the imagery of English batsmen like Greig& facing up to the fast-bowling attack led by Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Andy Roberts. It is cinematic too& At one point, when Viv Richards is batting and you see him on the big screen hammer a ball, he hits it so hard that the instinct is to duck." - Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent
"Joyous and uplifting... a celebration of a sporting triumph and all its implications for black politics and culture." - Marc Lee, Daily Telegraph