Fire in Babylon burns with glories past

Fire in Babylon burns with glories past

Written by Editor

Topics: Cricket, Film & Theatre, Sports

With pace like fire and fearless, forceful batting, the West Indies team dominated the world of cricket from 1980 to 1995. Back then, the notion of playing for pride carried added significance, particularly in the socio-political context of the day. The UK documentary “Fire in Babylon” succeeds in capturing the issues,  intricacies and spirit of the period, as it tells the compelling story of one team’s fiery fight against the “Babylon” system of racial prejudice and oppression.

The cinematographic language of the opening sequence is finely attuned to the Caribbean landscape, history and culture. Tall, bustling West Indian men in regular attire spring into their run-ups through distinct locations – a cane field, a scrap yard and along a white-sand beach. The point of release of the cricket ball is expertly interwoven with archival footage of opposition batsmen taking evasive action from deliveries travelling at outrageous speeds. On voiceover is commentary and the roar of the crowd, creating an electric ambience in Caribbean settings outside of the cricket stadium.

Beyond artistic embellishment, this sets the scene for a story than is greater than a team’s quest for international success. Cricket’s importance to the region as an instrument of unification, resistance and self-affirmation comes to the fore. A humiliating loss to Australia in 1975 set in motion the genesis of an all-conquering West Indian outfit that dominated like no team before or after them. The rise of the West Indies is recounted by the legends of the game, academics and socio-cultural commentators, and the feature is well served by a rich soundtrack of Caribbean music.

Directed by Stevan Riley (Blue Blood) and produced by Charles Steel (The Last King of Scotland) and John Battsek (One Day In September), “Fire in Babylon” premiered in Jamaica on April 9 by Digicel during the launch the 2011 Home Series against India and Pakistan. It is scheduled to hit cinemas in late May/Early June.

From left: West Indies bowling legends Colin Croft, Michael Holding and Joel Garner

“Fire in Babylon” premiere in Kingston, Jamaica on April 9, 2011

From left: Mark Linehan, CEO of Digicel Jamaica, Antonia Graham, Digicel Group, and John Battsek, one of the producers of “Fire in Babylon”

From left: West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle and former players Joel Garner and Jimmy Adams

Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron, vice president of the West Indies Cricket Board, and former WI cricketer Jeffrey Dujon.


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