Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fire In Babylon

I can't figure out Cricket. I just watch to see the bowler bean the batsmen in the head with that deadly ball they use. The guys who don't wear protective headgear are just asking to die. It seems like a very elegant game. A game for a man of leisure who has an afternoon to spend on the pitch.

This documentary is the story of the West Indies Cricket team who were undefeated for over 15 years in match play. They beat the best of the game and the powerhouses such as Australia, New Zealand, Indian and Britain. In that regard they are the most successful sports team in the history of modern sport.

The film is a series of interviews from the players who were there at the time history was being made. We see examples of their play and hear from experts in Caribbean culture.

Bunny Wailer (from Bob Marley and the Wailers) is a great interview get. He is a true prophet of Rastafarian culture and he knows his Cricket. His insights were magical.

The documentary makes many strong connections between the fight against Apartheid in South Africa and the struggles the peoples of the West Indies had with their Colonial exploiters.

I wish more time had been spent on the controversy that arose when the team was to play a match in South Africa at the height of the battle against Apartheid. It was an issue full of personal feelings about race and human dignity. Some players went to play and got paid to be there and others stayed home on principal. These were all black Cricket players. I would have loved to hear more about how members of the team remember those times.

As it is this feels like half a documentary. It doesn't talk about the past 15 years aside from one short mention at the end of the film. I am sure other interesting and remarkable things happened to the team in that time period. Why stop the story a third of the way through?

I love the players who were interviewed for the film and the historians and thinkers who explain the importance of Cricket and this team to the collective culture of the individual islands that make up the West Indies. They all are charming story tellers. I could sit around with a nice rum drink and listen to those tales all night. When the film ended I found I wanted more.

So, if you want to see the beginnings of the greatest sports team in history (that you never knew anything about) an get into some sweet island culture then check this one out. I dare you not to Google 'Cricket' after you are done. Regardless of how it's explained to me, however, I still have no idea how this game is played or scored.


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