Monday, April 11, 2011

West Indies Cricket in the Crucible: FIRE IN BABYLON Official Trailer - In Cinemas May 20

It might not immediately resonate with despondent Windies cricket fans, but the two-decade dynasty that the great West Indies teams of the late 70s through the early 90s  was forged in the cauldron of Australian pace bowling and the ashes (no pun intended) of a thrashing at the hands of the Aussies in 1975.

After that fateful test new captain Clive Lloyd set out to overhaul the team and, essentially, fight fire with fire. Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Croft and - later Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose, combined with the potent and intrepid batting attack of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, the aforementioned Lloyd and Vivian "Master Blaster" Richards  to put the "fire" of the film's title on, first, the English, and then, the Australians in the supreme grudge match.

For its portrayal of the above only, "Fire On Babylon" is a worthy addition to sporting film lore. But the production teams behind award-winning features like "The Last King of Scotland" and "Restrepo" has much more on their minds than just a cricket highlight reel. The ascendancy of the West Indies is set against and paralleled by the socio-political forces of the day, including the rise of Afro-consciousness, the fight against apartheid and against racism in general, and the concurrent threads of Caribbean musical expression - reggae in particular - which were also attracting global attention.

All these elements are skillfully and wittily blended by writer-director Stevan Riley, who has everyone giving input, from Sabina Park groundsmen to last-standing Wailer Bunny "Jah B" Livingstone to the cricketers themselves - notably Richards and Holding, who each speak poignantly about resisting the temptation to go on the ill-fated and controversial "Rebel Tour" of then apartheid South Africa in the early 80s.

The bottom line is you don't even have to like cricket to enjoy Fire In Babylon, although a newfound appreciation for the game could well be a product of viewing it. Telecoms giant Digicel, which recently hosted a Kingston premiere, are certainly hoping for that and other positive effects as a prelude to the home series against Pakistan and India this summer.

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