Directed by Stevan Riley, this documentary features the likes of Ian Botham, Colin Croft, Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Michael Holding, Dennis Lillee, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Viv Richards, Andy Roberts and Jeff Thompson, to name but a few. It charts the rise of the great West Indian cricket team during the 1970s/80s, which electrified the world of cricket and gave hope to a nation.
This documentary does not try to break from any genre conventions or pretend to be something it’s not and, merely as a documentary, it is not done particularly well. The reason this film succeeds is due, mostly, to the excellent footage of the great West Indian bowlers in action. The clips that were used truly delivered a message, be it of aggression, anger, sadness etc. One clip that stands out was the great over which Michael Holding bowled at Brian Close, which was terrifying to witness. Fire in Babylon also managed to get across the vibrancy of the West Indian culture, as well as illustrating the talismanic nature of Vivian Richards and the effect the team’s success was having on the nation.
Every cricketer interviewed had their own perspective and their own viewpoint on particular cultural issues, as well as cricketing matters. For example, as you’d expect, Viv Richards had a very different point of view to Tony Greig or Jeffery Dujon. In that way, each interviewee fulfilled their role perfectly; creating intrigue as well as a small amount of conflict.
For cricket lovers, Fire in Babylon is perfect; supplying clips of legendary players, as well as interviews. However, people who hold no interest in cricket could still enjoy this film, as it addresses other issues apart from the sport. All in all it is an interesting watch and certainly one of the better sport-related documentaries I have seen.
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Film Rating: *** Worth a watch, particularly if you’re a cricket lover like myself