The West Indies cricket team’s meteoric rise in the world of cricket along with the rise of the black pride movement is the subject of Fire in Babylon screening this Sunday at BUEI at 9pm. It is the first film to document the journey in any depth. *Photo supplied
The West Indies cricket team’s meteoric rise in the world of cricket along with the rise of the black pride movement is the subject of Fire in Babylon screening this Sunday at BUEI at 9pm. It is the first film to document the journey in any depth. *Photo supplied
Fire in Babylon

****

Date: October 23

Time: 9pm

Director: Stevan Riley

Rating: PG

Runtime: 82 minutes

 

Freedom, independence and black pride are the powerful ingredients of this classic documentary that packs the impact of a Michael Holding bouncer.

The story of the all-conquering West Indies team that dominated world cricket for 15 years has a resonance that goes beyond sport.

The driven skipper Clive Lloyd, the imperious batsman Viv Richards and the dominant pace-bowler Holding were not just cricketers they were freedom fighters, Stevan Riley’s documentary tells us.

It was with the fire of the newly independent West Indian nations in their bellies, and the lyrics of fellow Caribbean legend Bob Marley — “stand up for your rights” — in their heads, that they braved racist taunts in Australia and England to emerge as the best team the sport has ever seen.

In one memorable sequence the players recall how the England skipper Tony Greig fired them up for the 1976 series with an ill-chosen taunt — “we’ll make them grovel”.

The driving philosophy of the West Indies team and the black pride movement they came to represent was that they would grovel to no man.

They would take the sport of the colonizer and beat them at their own game.

The West Indies defeated all-comers in the golden era of the 1970s and 80s but it is clear that nothing gave them more pleasure than defeating the English.

Greig’s side were comfortably beaten in ‘76, but it was the famous ‘blackwash’ series of 1984 that came to define the era.

The West Indies 5-0 humiliation of the English in their own backyard, served notice to the world that the tables had turned.

“This was like slaves whipping the asses of the master,” Bunny Wailer recalls.

Given the power of the symbolism and the astonishing feats of the West Indies team it is mystifying that it has taken until 2011 for this story to be committed to celluloid.

Fire in Babylon is not just a good sports movie.

It’s a good movie, period. And one that has been a long-time coming.


The Bermuda Documentary Festival opens this weekend at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.

The Bermuda Sun includes reviews and directors comments in today’s and Friday’s editions. Tickets are $15 and are available at www.bdatix.bm, Fabulous Fashions, Heron Bay Plaza or by calling 232-2255. For film trailers visit www.bermudadocs.bm