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Conflict! Consciousness! Cricket? The quintessential colonial sport, cricket—with its sweaters, white outfits, and tea breaks—was introduced by British imperialists to their overseas holdings. More than a half-century after empire’s end, the game remains wildly popular from India to Jamaica, even as its on- and off-field form has been transformed. Fire in Babylon traces this transformation to the 1970s, when the West Indian team rose from a Cool Runnings-style colonial farce to a major force in international cricket, beating its former masters at an improved version of their own game. If the film stretches a little bit to incorporate cricket into the broader cultural currents of an era dominated by conflicts over civil rights, anti-Apartheid, and post-colonial politics (reggae legend Bunny Wailer is among the non-cricketers interviewed), it manages to make its story accessible even to Americans who don’t know a bouncer from a carrom ball. Like all good sports flicks, this one is about cultural history as much as athletic competition.
Friday, June 24 at 10 a.m. at AFI Silver 1; also on Saturday, June 25 at 5:45 p.m. at Discovery HD Theater.