Out of the Ashes | DVD review

Out of the Ashes is a documentary about the Afghanistan cricket team’s joyously ludicrous journey from war to the Twenty20 World Cup.

Have you ever watched a film and felt completely and utterly unmoved by the most spectacular action sequences because you don’t care one bit about the characters in the film?

Okay, now imagine the exact opposite of that.

Your standard Hollywood blockbuster can depict the nation, world or universe seconds away from destruction and you’ll barely flinch. Here, the outcome of a cricket match played in front of a dozen people in Jersey can pretty much reduce you to tears. The characters and background are slipped in on the sly and before you know it, you’re emotionally invested in proceedings.

This is partly the skill of the filmmakers, but the emotional impact is also a happy byproduct of what is, in essence, an unscripted fairytale. At the start, the team is quite literally being laughed at, but when they’re being greeted on the streets of Afghanistan after gaining one-day international status, they’re the ones laughing. It’s pretty clear that in this instance something particularly good has been achieved through cricket.

In the DVD extras, Matthew Fleming rather cheesily says that sport is the only language that we can all understand. It’s not his fault that’s trite. When you see Afghanistan’s cricketers swimming in the sea for the first time or deducing the purpose of the green man at a zebra crossing, they can’t help but appear lost. Next thing you know, they’re on the cricket field and they’re playing against Nepal, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands or Canada and it doesn’t matter whether they’re in Buenos Aires or Tanzania, suddenly they don’t seem remotely out of place.

This film is very, very good. We’ve got a copy to give away next week, but if you’re not the lucky winner, you should buy this DVD. It is a disservice to call it a cricket documentary. Depicting a world you don’t know and telling a story worth telling, it’s a brilliant film that just happens to be about cricket.

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6 Appeals

  1. “Okay, now imagine the exact opposite of that.”

    A. “…..felt completely and utterly moved by the most spectacular action sequences because you didn’t care one bit about the characters in the film?”

    B. “…..felt completely and utterly unmoved by the most spectacular action sequences because you did care about the characters in the film?”

    C. “……felt completely and utterly moved by the most spectacular action sequences because you cared about the characters in the film?”

    Answer: C.

  2. King Cricket

    February 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    D: “… felt completely and utterly moved by the most innocuous events because you cared about the characters in the film.”

  3. Who isn’t?

  4. I want this, and yet I can’t wait until 14th February (it is the perfect Valentines gift after all). I therefore think that KC should knock up a puppet version of the film over the weekend for general release on Monday.

    I’d buy that for a dollar

  5. Scratch that – seeing as I am reading this blog against the flow of time (linear though time is), I have realised that KC’s reimagining of “Out of the Ashes” should be blu-tack based.

    Furthermore it should be the 2010 film rather than the 2007 film of the same name starring Max von Sydow.

  6. There is a try before you buy option. It is being shown on BBC 4 Stroyville this Monday 7th Feb at 10pm.

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