FIRE IN BABYLON Bowls Its Way On DemandJune 22, 2011

FIRE IN BABYLON Bowls Its Way On Demand

Tribeca Film

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: FIRE IN BABYLON (Tribeca Film).



FIRE IN BABYLON Bowls Its Way On Demand
By Scott Zaretsky

For those here in the United States who speak with glee of the “sticky wicket”, the “chinaman” and the elusive “cherry”, you might have already seen the documentary featuring Sir Isaac Vivian “Viv” Alexander Richards and his mighty West Indian Cricket team. For those who haven’t – get your game on and tune in.

Viv Richards / FIRE IN BABYLON (Tribeca Film)

FIRE IN BABYLON is an incredibly moving film – incredible for all of its undeniable simplicity. This 87-minute documentary once again illuminates the social bullying that has left its indelible scar on society – simply, the elite taking on the underclass. This film highlights the little engine that could West Indian batsman and fielders whose smiles and tenacity won the hearts of fans across the world.

The film, while not as fist pumping as RUDY who took the hits, hard knocks and got the glory on the shoulders of his teammates or Al Michaels famed “do you believe in miracles” with the US Olympic hockey team, has all the same triumphant undertones while historically gift wrapped against the tropical sounds and surf of the islands.

Stevan Riley's FIRE IN BABYLON celebrates the great West Indies cricket team of the late-1970s and 1980s – and shows how its monumental rise transported them far beyond the trophy cup and victory at stake.

Stevan Riley / FIRE IN BABYLON (Tribeca Film)

Told from varying point of view of the players themselves, the film portrays how the team and non-players alike struck a mighty blow for home island pride at a time when class wars were dominating the streets of England, apartheid was crippling South Africa and race riots and civil unrest were becoming the norm in the Caribbean. Before the team’s heroic rise, West Indian cricket was nearly non-existent, its players often accused of indulging in happy-go-lucky “calypso cricket”.


The team spearheaded by captain Clive Lloyd, the ever flamboyant batsmen “Viv” Richards and a squad of fearsome fast bowlers, the West Indies second coming became an unstoppable force in cricket for nearly a decade and a half, from a nearly unknown name into one of the most formidable forces the game has ever seen. This rise and conquer banished the old colonial condescension forever.


Clive Lloyd / FIRE IN BABYLON (Tribeca Film)

“Viv” Richards recalls being told that at Lords he could be expected to be treated like “an honorary white man” … that in of itself enough to brew disdain, he is seen pausing, rolling his eyes and projecting: “Can you just imagine?” Weaving game footage and retrospective interviews throughout, there’s a lingering scene in the film that features a simple still photo of Richards in his prime that speaks volumes. The way he stood when he went in to bat projects everything you need to know about the confidence of that team, and the pride at stake. In essence, this was breaking free from the chains that bound them historically for years.


Michael Holding / FIRE IN BABYLON (Tribeca Film)

Infused with performances by local West Indian musicians, and featuring an excellent reggae soundtrack, FIRE IN BABYLON certainly has the subject matter, the theme and the interest level to keep me anchored, however, I wanted more. As someone who has lived Island life for many years and compared cricket to watching paint dry, I still really hadn't the wildest idea how cricket works and how it came to the West Indies past the fact that it was a game often played by slaves.

When the West Indies rise as perhaps the worlds most prominent team in the sport, uncharacteristically defeating the globes elite England, Pakistan, and Australia, it's a sports moment that Hollywood directors should have been scrambling to make the next triumphant ROCKY.


FIRE IN BABYLON (Tribeca Film)

God knows we saw the Jamaican bobsled team on the big screen. That said, with all the ingredients for a “shot heard around the world” finish, the film seems to just take on a “yah man, no problem” pacing and it doesn’t so much just end as it seems to just fade into the island sunset. Perhaps because the sounds and surf is its primal location, FIRE IN BABYLON simply can't help but take it easy as documentary, but however chill and laid back as it might be, this is a definite film to put on your summers ON DEMAND list.


- Scott Zaretsky

Scott Zaretsky is a new contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. While he has played cricket on several occasions and toned his tan while doing so, he sticks to being an independent producer as his vocation of record.


FIRE IN BABYLON (Tribeca Film) is available on your cable system's Movie On Demand section beginning June 23, 2011.


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