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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant documentary - definitely not just for cricket fans
Saw Fire In Babylon last week at a preview screening with a friend and despite all the good things I'd heard about it i wasn't keen as I'm not a cricket fan in the least and usually avoid watching it at all costs.
That's why this film interested me - I expected it to be a movie that just cricket fans would like and the rest of us would be left at the wayside thinking...
Published on 16 May 2011 by NK

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not Great
As a documentary about an incredible team and what motivated them this is absolutely fascinating. It's a brilliant account of how they used a severe beating in Australia at the hands of Lillee and Thomson and the words of England's South African born captain Tony Greig to inspire them and to adopt the 4 fast bowler strategy that terrorised teams for 15 years. Of course,...
Published on 13 Jun 2011 by Dub Scot


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant documentary - definitely not just for cricket fans, 16 May 2011
This review is from: Fire in Babylon [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Saw Fire In Babylon last week at a preview screening with a friend and despite all the good things I'd heard about it i wasn't keen as I'm not a cricket fan in the least and usually avoid watching it at all costs.
That's why this film interested me - I expected it to be a movie that just cricket fans would like and the rest of us would be left at the wayside thinking what on earth is a goggly... Definitely not the case with this movie.

Taking on the unification of the West Indies, the race riots, the importance of the sport to West Indian communities in the commonwealth, apartheid in South Africa and the amazing winning streak of the Windies, the movie is a fascinating look into 70s-80s history. Plus their lethal fast bowlers, who will have you wincing with pain at the jaw breaking speed, are amazing to watch!

What tips it into 5 stars is the reggae soundtrack! Brilliant. Brings a flair of the Caribbean to the whole film.

I haven't come back loving cricket (or sadly, knowing what a goggly is), but appreciating the sport a bit more and definitely understanding why the West Indies cricket team were spoken of as the best in the world.

At the very least, it has got to get an award nom at the BAFTAs!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Windies in your Eye...duck!, 7 Jun 2011
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This is one of the best documentaries you will see and you don't have to like or understand cricket to enjoy it! The film charts the rise of the greatest cricketing team ever to grace the field, the West Indies between 1975 and 1996. It looks at the politics of race and sport and shows how the only way the Windies could answer injustice and racism was by excelling on the field. Their contribution has benefited cricket as a whole and the level at which all nations have to compete now is far higher than that which existed prior to the rise of the Windies. The film shows the double standards of the English and Australian teams, especially the latter which was happy to dish out dangerous bowling from the likes of Lillee and Thomson but could not take it when the West Indians retaliated with Roberts, Holding, Croft and Garner. The film also shows the struggles of the players, their experiences in Australia, disputes with their own cricketing board, and the bias of the media, as well as how the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people in the Windies and England rested on the success of the cricketing team. I was fortunate to see all of the test matches between England and the Windies in this film and it captures the spirit of the players and the audience as it really was. In fact, audiences of all races appreciated the manner in which the Windies played and the excitement generated even if they hated the results. It is a joyous, uplifting film of an era the likes of which we will never experience again.

The film mixes original footage with commentary from musicians, admirers and many of the players themselves, and music from many local bands and established singers. This is definitely one for a long summer evening in with friends and sets up a summer full of sport...and cricket. The blu-ray picture sparkles and is bright and the 5.1 soundtrack is suitably loud and energetic. This film has only just been released in the theatres over a fortnight ago and is, along with 'Senna' which is the other sports documentary of Summer 2011, one of the the highlights of the year. Don't miss out.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not just cricket!, 17 May 2011
This review is from: Fire in Babylon [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
My friend was lucky enough to get us a couple of tickets to the premiere of this film in Leicester Square. I'm not a massive cricket fan myself, but I knew that he was - so off we went. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed a documentary as much as I enjoyed Fire In Babylon. The interviews are amazing and the footage is breathtaking. It manages to be educational, exciting, and funny all at the same time - which is incredibly rare!

The soundtrack is awesome and as soon as the film starts you are immediately transported to the Caribbean to enjoy 90 minutes of film making that will provide as much entertainment as anything else coming out this summer. There is only one set of Pirates in the Caribbean this summer and it doesn't include a drunken, slurring Jonny Depp. To adapt a stuffy cricket themed phrase, this whopper of a film - It's not just Cricket!

Put simply - I was bowled over.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was this Sports Greatest Ever Team? Just Maybe!, 23 Jun 2011
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I watched the two famous 'blackwash' series between England and the West Indies in 1984 and 1985-86. In few sports do you see such a gulf in talent at the very top level, although Barcelona vs Manchester United might be another good example. Poor England simply got blitzed by perhaps the greatest cricket team to have ever played the game. Watching this complete dismantling of a team had a horrible fascination. Led by a fearsome band of fast bowlers the English batsmen were more interested in survival than playing an aggressive shot. The Windies fast bowlers have become the stuff of cricket legend. The elegant Michael Holding, the towering figure of Joel Garner, the quiet assassin Andy Roberts, the aggressive Colin Croft, and perhaps the finest bowler to have ever played the game Malcolm Marshall. Also rich in batsman like the fearless Viv Richards and a pumped up Gordon Greenidge you had one helluva team. "Fire In Babylon" evokes this era when the new Blitzkrieg style of Caribbean cricket swept like a bush fire across the game, scorching every team in its path for fifteen glorious years. And in my opinion it couldn't have happened to a more deserving cricket nation. It was mesmeric viewing even if you supported the whupped England team.

This documentary concentrates on the rise of this West Indian team, and the problems that they had to surmount. The way they were intimidated and humiliated by an Australian team containing Lillee and Thomson in 1974, which led to the fire fights fire response by captain Clive LLoyd. It was interesting to see how Michael Holding was reduced to tears by racist abuse in Australia during that era. But, boy did he bounce back! It was also informative to see how cricket brought together the many and diverse islands of the Caribbean under the banner of one great cricket team. Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and of course Jamaica to name the more prominent all provided great players. Perhaps the best bit was watching Tony Greig the England captain in 1976 telling the press how he would make the West Indians grovel. Not diplomacy at its best, and which he was made to famously regret with the West Indians uprooting his stumps with humiliating and monotous regularity in the following series where the English were duly annihilated. At that time great cricketers just seemed to appear out of a West Indian version of a Scotch mist in a production line that seemed endless. The film has contributions from many of the great men. It is a wonderful documentary that brings back great memories for those that lived through those times. My only gripes are that I would like to have seen even more cricket action. The documentary also gives much air time to Viv Richards and the bowlers Michael Holding, Andy Roberts and Colin Croft. There is only a brief mention about the magnificent Malcolm Marshall, and the earlier Keith Boyce. Perhaps because both are now dead. Marshall dying so tragically young and Boyce dying of chronic cirrhosis of the liver in his native Barbados. I would love to see an even more definitive documentary charting the history of West Indian cricket. Wishful thinking perhaps!

This is a documentary about one particular team that changed the face of cricket, that only touched upon its heritage of great players. One of the finest batsmen to have ever played the game, Rohan Kanhai does not even get a mention. The great all rounder Gary Sobers deserves a documentary all to himself. I once turned up to have a quick look at the Beausejour cricket ground in St Lucia, and ended up being given a guided tour by the chilled out groundsmen. I don't think I would get the same reception at Lords! I also had an animated chat with a security guard on that same island who was a treasure trove of information on cricket. But then most of these people are! This documentary gives you a genuine feel of the passion that these island races share for cricket. Oh that another great West Indian team would rise like a hurricane from the ashes. Until then we can cling to old memories and this cracking little documentary. Perhaps the greatest team from any sport? I watched the blu-ray version. Amongst the extras is an interesting interview showing a critics response to the aggressive West Indian bowling. Curious for a man from a nation that invented bodyline bowling way back in 1932-33 to nullify the threat of Don Bradman!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not Great, 13 Jun 2011
As a documentary about an incredible team and what motivated them this is absolutely fascinating. It's a brilliant account of how they used a severe beating in Australia at the hands of Lillee and Thomson and the words of England's South African born captain Tony Greig to inspire them and to adopt the 4 fast bowler strategy that terrorised teams for 15 years. Of course, this team had more than just 4 fast bowlers - Sir Viv, Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd, etc were world class batsmen too.

With the passing of time it's easy to forget that the emergence of this team as, arguably, the greatest of all time was against the backdrop of racial tension in England and, of course, apartheid in South Africa and the motivation this provided shines through also.

No question that the story is a great one, excellently told and for sure it's of interest not just to cricket fans. What spoilt it for me, and hence the 3 star rating, is that I am a cricket fan who grew into adulthood watching this team, so I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated by continuity errors, "flipped" pictures which showed right arm bowlers bowling left arm or right handed batsmen batting left handed and also by the poor quality of all the action footage, presumably done for "effect". There's also a frustrating lack of film from the 75-76 series in Australia and the Packer era which means the same action is repeated, almost too often. So if you're a cricket fan with an eye for detail, you have to park that if you're going to enjoy this film fully. Also given the quality of the action footage, there is no benefit whatever from buying the Blue-Ray version.

Worth buying? Definitely, but buy in the knowledge that it's a documentary not a highlights package, so accept the poor quality footage and the inaccuracies in presentation or they'll spoil it for you. I wish I'd know beforehand and maybe I'll enjoy it more on second viewing. The Extras include a great insight into what it was like to face up to the 4 man pace attack from Geoffrey Boycott, David Gower and Allan Lamb.

Last thought, which has been said before. Hopefully this account of greater times in West Indian cricket can be used in some way to help with a re-emergence of cricket in that Region. The world of cricket is a much poorer place for the current demise of the West Indies as a Test nation.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid and enlightening experience, 24 May 2011
This review is from: Fire in Babylon [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
'Fire In Babylon' is a splendid film documentary in a all too rare field.
It is an emotive, provocative and accurate portrayal of a great era in cricket especially for the West Indies. I was fortunate as a teenager to witness the West Indies dismantle England and it was an incredibly rewarding experience as the atmosphere both at Lords and The Oval was exceptional both on and off the field. You could not help but enjoy their success and the manner with which their fans celebrated their achievements. I had a great friend at the time called Kwesi Amihya from West Africa and we delighted in the carnival mood while witnessing the epitome of cricketing brilliance.
At a difficult time in England for ethnic relations, the team helped unite a multitude of races in a way rarely witnessed before the release of Nelson Mandela.
In particular the interviews by Michael Holding and Gordon Greenidge are sensational viewing as well as a fascinating insight into the team ethos after their Australian tour.
No viewer will be disappointed with the experience of watching this accomplished film.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch this film!, 17 May 2011
By 
B. W. Whately - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fire in Babylon [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I grew up knowing of the West Indies cricket team as a formidable sporting team. But it was not until I watched this film that I realised what a staggering group of people that team really were.

Growing up in England, I remember the complaints over the aggression of the West Indies bowling. Looking at those accusations in the light of the racism - both within the sport and in the wider world - that they were fighting made me see the whole era in a totally new light.

Hearing those guys tell of their development first as a cricket team and then as spokesmen for civil rights is an amazing history lesson - but hell, this film isn't just an instructive and enlightening documentary - it is gripping, adrenalin pumping stuff, and also bloody funny at times. You have got to love Bunny Wailer. Another legend.

A film full of legends. You must watch this film.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, and not just for lovers of cricket, 6 May 2011
This review is from: Fire in Babylon [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I have been lucky enough to catch an advance screening of Fire in Babylon, and I have to say that I was relatively ambivalent about the whole thing beforehand as I've never had the least interest in cricket, however I do love sports movies in general as they can be very inspiring. How pleasantly surprised I was as Fire in Babylon was definitely an inspiring tale, as well as being a superbly cinematic documentary of the very highest pedigree all round. Viv Richards is a true icon, and came across with such a sense of confident gravitas and assurance that I almost want to start watching cricket, well maybe not quite...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sport, Politics, Psychology, 20 Sep 2011
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fire in Babylon [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
This is an utterly compelling documentary which works on several levels. It is very simply structured, just a series of clips from matches interspersed with a talking heads, but that is absolutely fine, the story is such a strong one, it doesn't need anything more.

The talking heads are a mixture of players, rasta academics and observers. Thus we get the charisma of Viv Richards, the intelligence of Gordon Greenidge, the relaxed but steely determination of Michael Holding and the controlled menace of Andy Roberts.

On the sporting level, the DVD tells the story of how the West Indes cricket team of the 1970's reacted to being bullied out of the game by Australia in 1975 by rising to become very probably the greatest cricket team and maybe the greatest sporting team of all time. For fifteen years they dominated the game through a combination of terrifyingly brilliant fast bowling and equally ferociously indimidating batting.

On the political level this is the story of an afro-carribean team rising at a time when overt racism and post colonial superiority were still pretty prevalent, to give pride to both their home nations, and to the down trodden immigrant community in Britain. I note that some reviewers have criticised the politics as being PC and detracting from the sport, but one of the main points of this DVD is the impossibility of seperating the sporting from the political. I watched this team in the 70s and 80s but was too young to have known much about the civil rights movement of the 60s. This film really made me realise how close in time, and hence connected the two were.

Just listening to the individuals talk is fascinating. Yes racism and colonialism were genuine factors which this team played its part in combatting, but also the fight against them gave this team that feeling of "us against the world" which seems to typify all great teams. On an individual level, you feel you learn a lot about the speakers. Colin Croft is a case in point, initially he comes across as a rather smooth talking, insincere politician, but as the story develops you learn that he is driven by needing to justify his personal involvement in rebel tours to apartheid South Africa.

Two strong things I felt were a sense of pity for the English cricket team and a sense of "plus ca change" in respect of the aussies. Trapped between the righteous anger of their opponents and the crashing, brain aching stupidity of their captain, Tony Greig, the English come across as a pretty decent lot, facing a force they don't have the ability to combat. The Aussies of Lillee and Thompson, physically and verbally abusing opponents, sadly come across as the direct ancestors of Steve Waugh's brilliant but unloved and unloveable team.

The extras are not extensive, but there is an absolute gem in which some of the leading players of the era, David Gower, Imran Khan, Geoff Boycott, describe facing the great pace attack. Utterly chilling, but also including some great gallows humour. "Its all right, we've seen off the first string bowlers, Holding and Roberts, it'll be easy now, we've only got to deal with Garner amd Marshall."

Finally, it must be said that there is also great beauty here, for example Michael Holding running in, in slow motion, shows pure feline grace.

All in all, a must for any true cricket fan, but also a fascinating slice of popular politcal history.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant and uplifting film, 20 May 2011
By 
S. Murray - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fire in Babylon [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I saw this film at a preview and thought it was one of the most uplifting and inspiring stories i have seen in the movies. it is really energetic and the soundtrack of Bob Marley and other reggae classics was fantastic. I know nothing about cricket- only vaguely remember some of the players from my childhood in the 70's- didn't matter as this story is fascinating on so many levels- politically it tells the story of nations rising up against their oppressors through the game of cricket, which is exciting, it also gives you a real insight into the minds of top sportsmen and how dangerous cricket was with fast bowlers bowling at over a 100 miles an hour, as well as putting the game of cricket in a powerful context- looking at how the UK and Australia discriminated against the West Indies team -the UK even tried to change the rules because the West Indian team were beating them too often. All the guys on this team were genuine heroes- especially Viv Richards who is incredibly cool! This is a fun, exciting and gripping movie that i would highly recommend to anyone and everyone.
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