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Fire in Babylon is not just a documentary on a cricket team. Well, it is but its approach isn't limited to just cricket. It includes almost everything that West Indies stood for. It captures the vast expanse of its music, culture, politics and history. It is nostalgic yet it doesn't resort to romanticism by glorifying the sport. It also puts forth the downside of the way the game was played. Not really a gentleman's game, was it? The Australian team is revealed to be a pack of warriors, Dennis Lillee solely responsible for causing several injuries. Yet it was when the West Indians imbibed this strategy, they were looked at as barbarians. Not warriors.
Stevan Riley makes specific attempts to show what cricket was back then. It was even an instrument to suppress the colonized. They faced racism, they faced criticism. A revealing moment shows Tony Greig talking about making the "grovel". That one word which stirred each member of the team and still echoes in their minds tells a lot about how unfounded hate can affect a sport. There is a definite political resonance as well. What it meant for the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. Sure, it's a history lesson but it's an important one and with the help of some enjoyable ska/ reggae music, it is never boring.
A good team can be made of excellent players but a great team is a balanced one. The reserve of Sir Clive Lloyd, the gift of Sir Vivian Richards and Andy Roberts' menace all add up to create a team, which was perfect but also happened to be there at the right time.
My favorite moment is when the players talk about meeting Bob Marley. Viv Richards says â€œGet Up, Stand Upâ€ became battlefield music for him while he was on the pitch. We never wonder what goes on in the player's minds when they are just about to face the ball, do we? Preoccupied with wanting them to hit sixes. But this unique moment tells us how they get inspired; they too can have songs stuck in their heads. This brings me to the fact that every nation needs great men who excel in sport, music, film etc. Something that puts them on the map and not just get lost as a dot. The West Indians had the cricket team and Bob Marley who changed the way music was created and changed the way a game had been played.
This is a wet dream for a cricket lover. For others, it can be an inspiring underdog story about group of boys trying to fight for something that means a lot to them and their country.