Dir: Stevan Riley
Fire In Babylon is a damn fine sports documentary, and for those who don’t follow cricket or have no idea about the game, this will certainly be an eye opener. This focuses on the rise of the West Indies team, through the 70’s and 80’s, from when they were pretty much regarded as a joke, to their rise to be an unstoppable force.
There are going to be those out there (my parents come to mind) who remember this era in the sport, this was their golden age. The competition was fierce, and the sport meant some serious business. For me personally I started watching the game in the late 80’s, as a young lass. Due to my fathers brainwashing (and after watching this documentary I can’t say I blame him), I was a West Indies follower. While I did go for my country Australia (I was a pretty big Merv Hughes fan), it was all about the West Indies and their on-going amazing side.
This was quite eye opener for me, to see how this team rose, and the battles they fought to be taken seriously. Back in the day, these guys suffered some pretty harsh racism (if you are sensitive, some of this may disturb you) and faced an uphill battle. It wasn’t until 1975 (correct me if I can wrong) where they played against a very brutal Australian team; they went home, regrouped and came back with a vengeance!
The documentary is told with new interviews, footage from the games and with a lovely Caribbean back drop that completely sells it. The stories that get told are very interesting and often engaging, from the people who went through it. There is a lot of political aspects, that might go over some peoples heads if you aren’t familiar with how it went back in those days, and that is perhaps the only weaker side. I think it needed a bit more fleshing out, as a way to bring in people that perhaps aren’t as well versed in the subject matter. Aside from that, this is a very well rounded and well-told documentary, it is entertaining and the footage from the old games is fantastic to see. There isn’t a shortage of seeing a bowler clock a batman’s in the head, and the types of injuries were sustained.
One may look at the sport differently after this, from his regal background in England, to the vicious nature it took on; cricket isn’t a sport of the weak. In all this a great documentary and tribute to one of the greatest teams and well worth watching for fans and non-fans alike.
The Australian DVD
Audio/Video: The video is a 16:9 widescreen presentation. Picture quality was solid, unfortunately the old cricket footage isn’t the greatest but the new stuff with the interviews is great. Audio is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1. this is a great audio track, its clear and sharp.
* Interviews with David Gower, Geoffrey Boycott, Allan Lamb and more
* How the West Indies changed cricket forever
* The next generation: Curtley Ambrose and Richie Richardson
* Viv Richards vs Dennis Lillee
* Playing against Racism
The extra features are fantastic, I really enjoyed them a lot. The interviews are so in-depth and interesting, they really serve as a great companion piece to the film. I absolutely loved the ‘next generation’ features, as Curtley Ambrose and Richie Richardson were two of my absolute favourite players. Viv Richards vs. Dennis Lillee is fantastic as well, most will remember this and probably enjoy this feature. I was very happy with the package, great stuff.
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.