Friday, 15 July 2011

Fire in Babylon

Last night we saw the movie Fire in Babylon. The synopsis states it's a 2010 documentary film about the record-breaking West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and 1980. Now if you are anything like me you are probably already starting to tune out. Cricket?! Pfft! How could that possibly be an interesting movie? Well let me tell you right now that this movie is better than you could possibly imagine!

Starting around the late 60's and early 70's and filled with stock footage and interviews with players, academics, and people of cultural significance in the West Indies it is an inspiring, uplifting, sometimes confrontational, sometimes hilarious look at how the rise to success of one group of men lifted an entire people up above the oppression, racism and helplessness they'd endured for over 300 years.

The movie talks about the 1975 test series when Australia massacred the West Indies, embarrassing them internationally and cementing the label of Calypso Cricketers. It also reveals, in the players own words, that it was this humiliating defeat that led to the turnaround of what was to become one of, if not THE greatest team in the history of not only cricket but of sport in general. At the peak of their success the West Indies Cricket team remained undefeated for 15 years and produced some of the finest individual Cricketers the world has known.

The movie also shows the cultural impact that the success of the team had on the people of the West Indies, a people who, in every other way remained a group of islands that agreed on nothing. The success of the team also saw a shift in the attitudes of those people who had migrated from the West Indies to England in search of a better home. The film also highlights a strong correlation between the cultural shift of the people of the West Indies and the struggle against oppression for African Americans and the anti apartheid movement in Africa.

Fire in Babylon also reveals, unflinchingly, the racism that the West Indians faced from both their opponents on the field and the crowds that watched the games. There were times I was ashamed of being Australian, ashamed to know that people revered by many Australians as heroes thought it acceptable to use racial slurs during what most consider a gentleman's game.

During the movie I found myself barracking for the West Indies, hoping they would defeat my own country's Cricketers. Hoping they would overcome all odds and prove that colour has nothing to do with success and achievement. I was inspired by their courage and perseverance, by their dedication and commitment. They made me proud to be a human being.

Whether you are old enough to remember Lillee and Thommo or barely old enough to remember when cricket was interesting, whether you are a cricket fanatic or someone who could care less this movie will grab hold of you and refuse to let you go until the credits roll. See it, be inspired, laugh and rejoice in our ability to overcome.

There are several more opportunities to see this movie during the Revelation Film Festival, find session times here


Anonymous said...

Windie's were best with Walsh and Ambrose... those lips! Could kill an aussie in a single pucker.

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