6-2 | Table of Con­tents | http://​dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​7​7​4​2​/​I​M​A​G​E​.​C​C​N​.​6​-​2.6 | Cec­ca­to PDF

Abstract | Main­stream cin­e­ma rep­re­sent­ing Jamaica and Jamaicans has always made use of clichés and stereo­types. The emer­gence of a local Jamaican cinema—beginning in 1972 with Per­ry Henzell’s movie—immediately start­ed to give a new image of the coun­try and its inhab­i­tants. From The Hard­er They Come up to most recent movies, Jamaican cin­e­ma has used con­sis­tent style, tech­niques, and themes to give a new vision of the coun­try. Jamaican movies may have low pro­duc­tion val­ue, but they pro­vide a more authen­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Jamaica’s cul­ture. View­ing Jamaican movies gives the audi­ence a sense of a small but grow­ing cin­e­mat­ic tradition.

Résumé | Le ciné­ma tra­di­tion­nel représen­tant la Jamaïque et les Jamaï­cains a tou­jours util­isé des clichés et des stéréo­types. Le ciné­ma jamaï­cain a débuté en 1972 avec le film de Per­ry Hen­zell et a immé­di­ate­ment com­mencé à don­ner une nou­velle image du pays et de ses habi­tants. À par­tir de The Hard­er They Come jusqu’au dernier film, le ciné­ma Jamaï­cain a util­isé les mêmes styles, tech­niques et thèmes pour fournir une nou­velle vision du pays. Les films ne sont peut-être pas de grande qual­ité artis­tique, mais ils don­nent une idée de l’authentique Jamaïque et de la richesse de sa cul­ture. Regarder les films Jamaïquains donne aux spec­ta­teurs le sens d’une petite mais crois­sante tra­di­tion cinématographique.



In the present essay, I will demon­strate that even though Jamaican cin­e­ma is not an estab­lished indus­try, it has nonethe­less cre­at­ed a tra­di­tion with the pri­ma­ry and found­ing goal of giv­ing an authen­tic depic­tion of Jamaicans. I will first con­trast rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Jamaica in for­eign pro­duc­tion with movies pro­duced by Jamaicans to show the dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions of the coun­try from these two per­spec­tives. After hav­ing defined Hollywood’s dis­tort­ed depic­tions of Jamaica, I will briefly analyse Jamaica’s first local­ly pro­duced fea­ture film, Per­ry Henzell’s The Hard­er They Come (1972), to demon­strate why this film is such an impor­tant step in self-rep­re­sen­ta­tion and dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion from Hol­ly­wood cin­e­ma and still an influ­ence on younger Jamaican direc­tors. Final­ly, I will enu­mer­ate some of the themes and devices used by select­ed Jamaican direc­tors and their debt to Henzell’s movie to trace the devel­op­ment of the moviemak­ing tra­di­tion on the island. I will demon­strate that the unfair stereo­types of Jamaica that Hol­ly­wood cin­e­ma pro­motes have led to the desire for more authen­tic depic­tions of the coun­try. I will out­line a gen­er­al def­i­n­i­tion of Jamaican cin­e­ma, the many social, eco­nom­ic, and cul­tur­al prob­lems fac­ing this nation­al cin­e­ma, and the com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tics of Jamaican films. In the end, I will demon­strate that Jamaican movies fol­low a tra­di­tion of reha­bil­i­tat­ing Jamaica’s rep­u­ta­tion and boost­ing Jamaican pride about their cin­e­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Regret­tably, lit­tle crit­i­cism has been writ­ten so far on this sub­ject; prob­a­bly due to the small num­ber of works, schol­ars have neglect­ed Jamaican cin­e­ma and thus researchers who con­front this issue have to rely on pop­u­lar cin­e­ma crit­i­cism, the few schol­ar­ly arti­cles focus­ing on Jamaican cin­e­ma, and, above all, on dis­cus­sions with peo­ple involved in this domain—the pri­ma­ry source for this study. Actors, pro­duc­ers, and espe­cial­ly direc­tors are eager to share their vision of Jamaican cin­e­ma for schol­ar­ly appraisal. My study is large­ly based on what I per­ceived dur­ing these dis­cus­sions with var­i­ous fig­ures of Jamaican cinema.

Cin­e­ma has been promi­nent in Jamaica from its begin­nings. Yet this pop­u­lar­i­ty does not mean that Jamaica has always been an active film­mak­ing nation, but rather that the island served as a favourite loca­tion for for­eign com­pa­nies look­ing for “exot­ic” set­tings. Hol­ly­wood has been shoot­ing “on loca­tion” in Jamaica since 1903, start­ing with the doc­u­men­tary Rail­road Panora­ma Near Span­ish­town, Jamaica (1903), and more reg­u­lar­ly since the 1910s, shoot­ing movies such as Flame of Pas­sion and The Pearl of The Antilles (1915), A Daugh­ter of The Gods, The Rul­ing Pas­sion and A Woman’s Hon­or (1916), and Queen of The Sea (1918). Since then, Hol­ly­wood has pro­duced dozens of movies with this island as a sce­nario.[1] The main rea­son why Jamaica is such a pop­u­lar loca­tion for Hol­ly­wood com­pa­nies is that the geog­ra­phy offers a great vari­ety of loca­tions, pro­mot­ed by the gov­ern­men­tal office deal­ing with film­mak­ing on the island through the Inter­net and on ded­i­cat­ed film­mak­ing cir­cuits. Jamaica can also stand in for oth­er coun­tries, espe­cial­ly those on the African con­ti­nent. Indeed, the coun­try offers not only beau­ti­ful beach­es, but also moun­tains with lush veg­e­ta­tion, val­leys and plains, woods and water­falls, and some impor­tant his­tor­i­cal sites. More­over, Jamaica is less expen­sive for Amer­i­can com­pa­nies than any loca­tion in Africa.

The dis­tor­tion emerg­ing in for­eign movies made in Jamaica is that they often unin­ten­tion­al­ly sug­gest old stereo­types and rein­force prej­u­dices. A com­mon stereo­type is that of show­ing Jamaica only as a nat­ur­al par­adise where life is beau­ti­ful and free of prob­lems. The gor­geous land­scape fea­tures as a sym­bol of hap­py peo­ple. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, such idyl­lic scenes do not cor­re­spond to the actu­al life on the island, but only what is pre­sent­ed to the eyes of for­eign tourists. The coun­try has sev­er­al prob­lems char­ac­ter­is­tic of for­mer colonies or devel­op­ing coun­tries and the major­i­ty of Jamaicans face harsh con­di­tions in their every­day lives. The coun­try dis­plays an entic­ing land­scape, but its socio-polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment lim­its oppor­tu­ni­ties for its inhab­i­tants. The false image of the hap­py Jamaican is used only for deceiv­ing plots.

Anoth­er more dan­ger­ous stereo­type involves the use and trad­ing of mar­i­jua­na. Many direc­tors con­nect nar­co-traf­fic to Jamaica; in many inter­na­tion­al movies a drug deal­er has the appear­ance of a (Ras­ta) Jamaican. This rep­re­sen­ta­tion mir­rors the prej­u­dice that began dur­ing the 1980s with the great migra­tion of Jamaicans to the USA, since Jamaican immi­grants were thought of as crim­i­nals and Ras­tas as gan­ja smok­ers. This prej­u­dice, though dimin­ished, is still present today, and many direc­tors rely on easy clichés when they need an “evil” char­ac­ter in an action movie (fig. 1).

Figure 1. two “evil” characters reminiscent of Jamaica.

Fig­ure 1. Two “evil” char­ac­ters rem­i­nis­cent of Jamaica: Preda­tor (left) and Screw­face (right).[2]

Fol­low­ing the pre­con­cep­tion that Jamaicans are crim­i­nals, anoth­er stereo­type por­trays Jamaica, and par­tic­u­lar­ly Kingston, as one of the most dan­ger­ous places in the world. For a large audi­ence who knows noth­ing about Jamaica but what movies depict, these stereo­types pro­vide a much-dis­tort­ed image of the coun­try. Mar­i­jua­na smok­ers and drug deal­ers exist in Jamaica, like any­where else, but Jamaican soci­ety is much more diverse than the mis­lead­ing main­stream images sug­gest. Hol­ly­wood movies exploit these stereo­types to give a decep­tive vision of Jamaica. The indus­try has devel­oped three main roles in which it casts Jamaicans: the sub­servient char­ac­ter, the threat­en­ing one, and the drug deal­er. Into the 1930s, direc­tors tried to avoid using natives in their “Jamaican” movies. They start­ed to cast locals from the 1940s to the 1970s, but these Jamaicans were always silent. They were allowed to act only short lines with strong Jamaican accents in order to empha­size their dif­fer­ence from the oth­er actors. They were lim­it­ed to roles such as wait­ers, ser­vants of var­i­ous kinds, slaves, and so on. They rep­re­sent­ed only a touch of folk­lore, use­ful for the white pro­tag­o­nists’ sto­ries, but they were nev­er nec­es­sary to the nar­ra­tive. These roles typ­i­cal­ly reflect docil­i­ty and subservience.

Some­times, Jamaicans are giv­en the part of antag­o­nists try­ing to harm white char­ac­ters (e.g., in Wide Sar­gas­so Sea[3]). In these cas­es, they are con­demned to anni­hi­la­tion by the white char­ac­ters them­selves. Obe­di­ence or anni­hi­la­tion usu­al­ly accom­pa­ny Hol­ly­wood screen rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Jamaicans. The drug deal­er cliché allows Jamaicans to become pro­tag­o­nists, but only in vio­lent sit­u­a­tions. They still belong to the stereo­type of sub­servience and defeat: at the end of every movie, they are either impris­oned or dead. Each movie demon­strates that their char­ac­ters are weak and doomed to destruc­tion because of their evil nature, while the white hero is always strong and win­ning, (as in Marked for Death [1990], for example).

These stereo­types reveal Hollywood’s latent and unac­knowl­edged racism. The impres­sion one gets in watch­ing these movies uncrit­i­cal­ly is that white char­ac­ters are supe­ri­or to black ones and that Jamaicans are dan­ger­ous or ready to sell them­selves to white tourists to get mon­ey or a visa (as in the movie How Stel­la Got Her Groove Back [1998][4]. Con­se­quent­ly, Jamaicans do not gen­er­al­ly iden­ti­fy with the char­ac­ters of these movies and do not like to see them­selves depict­ed in such a way.

Coun­ter­ing the stereo­typ­ing of both Jamaica and its peo­ple has fuelled the vision of many Jamaican film­mak­ers to cre­ate a cin­e­ma of their own, depict­ing Jamaican sto­ries and fol­low­ing Jamaican sen­si­bil­i­ties. Build­ing on the sce­nario described by Vic­to­ria Mar­shall in “Film­mak­ing in Jamaica: ‘Likkle But Tallawah’” (1992), Chris Browne con­firmed in 2007,[5] Jamaican film­mak­ers did learn how to make movies from Hol­ly­wood crews on the island and adapt­ed those tech­niques to their own con­text. This essay focus­es on film­mak­ers who start­ed a cin­e­ma that diverged in both aes­thet­ics and pol­i­tics from main­stream Hol­ly­wood cin­e­ma and was often crit­i­cal of Amer­i­can influ­ence on Jamaica—an exam­ple of what crit­ics Ella Shohat and Robert Stam promi­nent­ly dis­cuss as “Third World Cin­e­ma” in Unthink­ing Euro­cen­trism: Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and the Media (1994).

We may define a Jamaican movie as a fea­ture film in which most, if not all, of the crew and staff are Jamaicans. Most of all, the film must have a Jamaican sto­ry that Jamaicans can view as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of them­selves. In fact, con­trary to what Mar­shall argues in the men­tioned arti­cle, that “for­eign mar­kets are usu­al­ly seen as the prin­ci­ple tar­get mar­kets for Jamaican’s best films” (100), the pri­ma­ry audi­ence of a Jamaican film is Jamaican, both at home and in the Jamaican dias­po­ra. Only after hav­ing reached that tar­get audi­ence does the movie reach a (pos­si­bly) world­wide circulation.

A Jamaican nation­al cin­e­ma start­ed in 1972 with Per­ry Henzell’s The Hard­er They Come. His work has inspired many local film­mak­ers since.[6] Despite severe prob­lems, main­ly relat­ed to fund­ing, film­mak­ers have formed activ­i­ty groups, encour­aged cross-region­al coop­er­a­tion, and local­ly pro­duced films reg­u­lar­ly par­tic­i­pate in fes­ti­vals in the Caribbean, such as the Trinidad and Toba­go Film Fes­ti­val and Caribbean Tales.

The pri­ma­ry prob­lem for Jamaican direc­tors is that of fund­ing. Since for­eign film­mak­ing has become such a lucra­tive indus­try for the island, the local gov­ern­ment prefers sup­port­ing for­eign com­pa­nies through incen­tives and tax breaks in return for eco­nom­ic stim­u­la­tion rather than help­ing the local indus­try. Indeed, local com­pa­nies ben­e­fit from incen­tives and tax breaks too, but they are unable to find the nec­es­sary funds to make a movie and thus can­not rely on gov­ern­ment help. In Jamaica, few investors are will­ing and able to pro­vide fund­ing for cin­e­ma. As I learned from talk­ing to peo­ple involved in the film indus­try, apart from the unsup­port­ive gov­ern­ment, many peo­ple who have the cap­i­tal under­es­ti­mate cin­e­ma, view­ing it as unim­por­tant. More­over, prof­its are unsure, and this risk is a strong deter­rent for pos­si­ble invest­ment. Thus Jamaican direc­tors often have to find the nec­es­sary cap­i­tal on their own. Many of them, includ­ing Per­ry Hen­zell, have invest­ed their own resources. As Chris Browne explained a few years ago, “When Per­ry made the film in ’72, and now in 2007, we’re still in the same place where he was. Only, of course, with the tech­nol­o­gy it’s eas­i­er to make films. […] But it’s just as hard.”[7] Financ­ing is a vicious cycle: no one is will­ing to invest sub­stan­tial cap­i­tal in a movie because it will not bring big return, but until a movie has enough mon­ey to get prop­er dis­tri­b­u­tion, it will be impos­si­ble for it to make large prof­its. Forty years after The Hard­er They Come, the sit­u­a­tion of movie-mak­ing in Jamaica has not changed much and does not seem like­ly to do so.

The Jamaican cin­e­mato­graph­ic indus­try prop­er­ly start­ed in 1972, when Per­ry Hen­zell released his first movie The Hard­er They Come, a fea­ture film right­ly con­sid­ered a mas­ter­piece today. This movie was rev­o­lu­tion­ary both in the­mat­ic con­tent and aes­thet­ic form; Henzell’s film was a pre­cur­sor for lat­er Jamaican cin­e­ma and is still a mod­el and point of com­par­i­son for Jamaican film since.

The Hard­er They Come retains its exem­plary sta­tus in Jamaican cin­e­ma because it is a com­plete movie in terms of form, con­tent, and nation­al sen­si­bil­i­ty. The film is first of all Henzell’s real­is­tic por­tray­al of Jamaica, even as it pro­motes old and new stereotypes—especially with regards to the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of gan­ja con­sump­tion and the “glam­orous” Jamaican gang­sters, the main source of crit­i­cism of the movie at home. It has a very spe­cif­ic style: Hen­zell was com­mit­ted to real­ism and thus used non-pro­fes­sion­al actors, shot true to life, and did not use a rigid script. More­over, he was often behind the cam­era and edit­ed much of the movie him­self. The movie has a very spe­cif­ic eth­ic: it is a reflec­tion on and of Jamaica and is polit­i­cal­ly com­mit­ted, ask­ing for com­plete free­dom for Jamaica with­out Amer­i­can inter­fer­ence in the island’s cul­ture, pol­i­tics, and economy.

The Hard­er They Come con­tains many lay­ers of sig­ni­fi­ca­tion behind Ivan’s appar­ent­ly sim­ple sto­ry. Through the plot, Hen­zell directs an analy­sis of var­i­ous sec­tors of his coun­try and shows the caus­es and effects of Jamaica’s polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, and social dif­fi­cul­ties. In fact, the main theme Hen­zell presents in his movie is that of cor­rup­tion in every seg­ment of society—the music busi­ness, the gan­ja trade, the police, and the government.

In his jour­ney into and through Kingston, Ivan comes in touch first of all with reli­gion, offer­ing hope for the after­life and only patience for the here and now. The Preach­er char­ac­ter depends on the U.S. to fund his church and arro­gant­ly believes Ivan to be his social infe­ri­or because he does not accept the church’s way of life. Ivan rep­re­sents free­dom and rule-break­ing and thus the Preach­er can­not accept him. Then, Ivan encoun­ters the music busi­ness, con­trolled by a sin­gle per­son, Mr. Hilton, who decides what­ev­er hap­pens in this indus­try. Ivan tries to break the rules here too but soon under­stands the extent of Mr. Hilton’s pow­er. Final­ly, Ivan col­lides with the police, who in turn col­lude with the gov­ern­ment. In this are­na, he dis­cov­ers that the police have their share in the gan­ja trade and do not hes­i­tate to act against the small deal­ers if they fail to pay. The gov­ern­ment, for its part, is aware of this col­lu­sion and prob­a­bly col­lects a part of the prof­its too.

Thanks to this film, Hen­zell explored Jamaica. He crit­i­cized the country’s pol­i­tics, which allows for for­eign inter­ven­tion in its deci­sions, con­sent­ing to Amer­i­can reg­u­la­tion of how and when to react against the gan­ja trade. He also crit­i­cized the country’s econ­o­my, again con­trolled by the U.S., through the exam­ple of the gan­ja trade. This denun­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can influ­ence is clear­ly reflect­ed in the movie: the mar­i­jua­na trade has an insur­mount­able hier­ar­chy that exploits the poor—the low­er lev­els of small farm­ers and deal­ers earn­ing a pit­tance for their job—and allows the high­er lev­els to get rich­er and rich­er. As Ivan’s sto­ry demon­strates, there is no pos­si­bil­i­ty of rebel­lion: to revolt against the hier­ar­chy means death.

The Hard­er They Come is also a metaphor of Jamaica in 1972. Ivan was young and so was the coun­try, in search of free­dom and of its own way, in search of wealth and inde­pen­dence, but also vibrant, full of ener­gy, and “a burst­ing of cre­ativ­i­ty,” as Trevor Rhone defined it.[8] The film mir­rors these char­ac­ter­is­tics in the plot and characters.

Yet this opti­mism does not mean that the coun­try was free of prob­lems and Hen­zell shows in his movie how soci­ety was divid­ed, with huge dif­fer­ences between rich and poor. He not only shows the obvi­ous dif­fer­ence in wealth—through means of trans­port, hous­es, and belong­ings in general—but also through such details as fences, win­dows, and oth­er phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers between peo­ple belong­ing to dif­fer­ent social class­es.[9]

Final­ly, in his movie, Per­ry Hen­zell repeats com­mon tropes, such as that of the coun­try­side opposed to the city (though he did not show a neg­a­tive view of the city), the coun­try boy who goes to town, the loss of inno­cence, and so on. Clear­ly this movie por­trays a com­plex sto­ry and through all these devices Hen­zell man­aged to cre­ate an influ­en­tial and endur­ing masterpiece.

In this chaot­ic world, Ivan search­es for jus­tice, not only for him­self but also for oth­ers liv­ing in the same con­di­tions. Every char­ac­ter in this movie rep­re­sents a dif­fer­ent aspect of Jamaican soci­ety and the con­flicts among them reflect those hap­pen­ing in soci­ety at large.

No lat­er Jamaican movie equals The Hard­er They Come, but all of them fol­low its exam­ple, appro­pri­at­ing some themes and tech­ni­cal devices and adapt­ing them to the chang­ing times to reach the same goal. What Jamaican cin­e­ma has tried to do from its begin­ning is to assert a nation­al iden­ti­ty, regard­less of main­stream mar­ketabil­i­ty. Obvi­ous­ly, every direc­tor would like his movie to be a block­buster, but few are will­ing to sac­ri­fice authen­tic­i­ty for this rea­son. Jamaican direc­tors took a pre­cise posi­tion against main­stream cin­e­ma, decid­ing to use their own lan­guage, recov­er their own voice, speak for them­selves with­out inter­me­di­aries, and tell the world how they see them­selves. These tac­tics served eman­ci­pa­to­ry pur­pos­es, fol­low­ing the will to assert the country’s inde­pen­dence and author­i­ty. Local film­mak­ers found authen­tic Jamaican iden­ti­ty in cen­turies-old tra­di­tions that have sur­vived thanks to the low­er class­es, the “low cul­ture” gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered unso­phis­ti­cat­ed but shap­ing the iden­ti­ty of many Jamaican peo­ple. These movies reha­bil­i­tate the Afro-Caribbean cul­ture sur­viv­ing in Jamaica, in almost every facet of life, at the expense of Euro-Amer­i­can cul­ture seen as exter­nal and inau­then­tic to the coun­try. Jamaican cin­e­ma also attempts to show Jamaica as close as pos­si­ble to real­i­ty, to give for­eign­ers a close look at Jamaican life, and Jamaicans them­selves an estab­lished sense of iden­ti­ty. These film­mak­ers achieve what Stu­art Hall thought Caribbean cin­e­ma should do: “by allow­ing us to see and rec­og­nize dif­fer­ent parts and his­to­ries of our­selves, to con­struct those points of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, those per­son­al­i­ties we call a cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty” (236).

Among the char­ac­ter­is­tics shared by Jamaican movies to assert the country’s iden­ti­ty, the first one that strikes a non-Jamaican view­er is that the lan­guage is not Stan­dard Eng­lish. Jamaican direc­tors con­scious­ly chose to use ver­nac­u­lar in their movies. Though this choice pre­vents a wide dis­tri­b­u­tion of the movies, it is nonethe­less an act of resis­tance against for­eign cul­tur­al impe­ri­al­ism. Jamaican movies val­ue using Jamaican Pat­wa as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the peo­ple, as the unof­fi­cial nation­al language.

Hen­zell want­ed The Hard­er They Come to be a pure­ly Jamaican expe­ri­ence. Hen­zell used the lan­guage to mir­ror Jamaican soci­ety, and he used it as anoth­er means to divide the rich from the poor. In fact, rich peo­ple talk in Stan­dard Eng­lish (though they all know Jamaican), while all the low­er-class peo­ple speak Pat­wa. In this way, lan­guage pro­vides a hier­ar­chy that cor­re­lates with colour, wealth, and edu­ca­tion. In this hier­ar­chy, lighter skin and the use of Stan­dard Eng­lish are asso­ci­at­ed with edu­ca­tion and snob­bery. Upper-class peo­ple despise poor­er peo­ple, con­sid­er­ing them unso­phis­ti­cat­ed and une­d­u­cat­ed because they are Pat­wa-speak­ers. How­ev­er, what clear­ly emerges from these movies is that this low­er class con­sti­tutes the core of Jamaican cul­ture and tra­di­tion, and that speak­ing Jamaican Pat­wa is a sign of authenticity.

Some direc­tors went even far­ther, mak­ing movies using only Jamaican, some­times also pre­sent­ing the Ras­ta dialect. For these direc­tors, the use of Jamaican is the only authen­tic way to rep­re­sent the coun­try. When there are no con­flicts with the upper class­es, Jamaicans tend to use Pat­wa, and as such this dialect is used in these authen­ti­cal­ly Jamaican movies.

Anoth­er fea­ture always close­ly inter­wo­ven with movies is music, which is extreme­ly impor­tant in Jamaican life, as music is present in every moment of the day. Many of the direc­tors also work in the music-video indus­try and music appears in var­i­ous ways in Jamaican movies. The movies show the evo­lu­tion of Jamaican music from the 1960s to the present. The Hard­er They Come cap­tured the 1960s music’s vital­i­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty and, as many oth­er direc­tors after him would also do, Hen­zell used a singer as main actor and pro­tag­o­nist. The songs of the sound­track are essen­tial to the film, com­ment­ing on the scenes and empha­siz­ing what is shown. Indeed, the sto­ry is part­ly set in the music business.

Jamaican cin­e­ma post-Hen­zell can be clas­si­fied into four broad cat­e­gories. In the first group are movies in which one or more actors are pop­u­lar singers. In the sec­ond group, music is part of the plot and the sto­ry is set in the music busi­ness (e.g. Rock­ers (1979) and One Love (2005)). The third and largest group includes movies in which the sound­track com­ments on and par­tic­i­pates in the scenes (Rock­ers, Coun­try­man [1982], The Lunatic [1991], Dance­hall Queen [1997], Third World Cop [1999], and One Love [2003]). In this cat­e­go­ry of movie, dif­fer­ent gen­res of music often char­ac­ter­ize dif­fer­ent social groups: the tal­ent scout is linked to dance­hall, the church to gospels and the Ras­tas to reg­gae. The last group aban­dons Henzell’s exam­ple (music is unim­por­tant in Smile Orange (1974), Chil­dren of Baby­lon (1980), and Glo­ry to Glo­ri­ana (2007)), which was, as Trevor Rhone acknowl­edged, to the detri­ment of the movies’ success.

Music is relat­ed to dance and dance­halls appear in many movies. In this regard, how­ev­er, gener­ic debates sur­round­ing dance­hall do not appear in the sto­ries. Gen­er­al­ly, dance­halls are only places where to have fun. In The Hard­er They Come, for instance, the down­town dance­hall is a joy­ful place where peo­ple dance and do not think about prob­lems. In Third World Cop the space becomes a sym­bol of peace; dances cel­e­brate a truce between two for­mer­ly hos­tile groups. In Rock­ers, neigh­bours meet togeth­er in down­town dance­halls to enjoy the music and their com­pa­ny. In this movie, a key scene occurs in an uptown club, where the Ras­tas take pos­ses­sion of the DJ cab­in and of the music, assert­ing their (and the ghetto’s) val­ues and music.

The movie most involved with dance­hall is Dance­hall Queen, cel­e­brat­ing this phe­nom­e­non uncon­di­tion­al­ly. Here, the dance­hall becomes the fac­tor that allows Mar­cia to devel­op eco­nom­ic inde­pen­dence, but it is also the place where appear­ances are most important—the “bare-as-you-dare” women’s out­fits. In Car­olyn Cooper’s Sound Clash (2004), the dance­hall allows Mar­cia auton­o­my over her own body and the way she is per­ceived by oth­ers. She indulges in the “plea­sure of dis­guise” (fig. 2) in doing what is not expect­ed of her, par­tic­u­lar­ly resist­ing the con­ven­tion­al image of a moth­er. In this movie the gaze is very impor­tant, both of the film cam­era and of the diegetic pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Mar­cia offers her image will­ing­ly to both. She accepts being objec­ti­fied, because it is one of the con­ven­tions of dance­hall, where women behave as (sex­u­al) objects, albeit retain­ing the pow­er to con­trol their sex­u­al­i­ty. At the end of the movie, how­ev­er, the return to “nor­mal” life and the aban­don­ment of the dis­guise is essen­tial to main­tain her iden­ti­ty. Though I do not agree with all of the film’s claims, espe­cial­ly those pre­sent­ing the dance­hall as a lib­er­at­ing space—as female free­dom endures only dur­ing the time of the dance—in this movie too, the dance­hall is per­ceived as joy­ful, a place to have fun and assert pop­u­lar val­ues and not to wor­ry about prob­lems and cul­tur­al debates.

Figure 2. Dancehall Queen: two of Marcia’s disguises in the dancehall.

Fig­ure 2. Dance­hall Queen: two of Marcia’s dis­guis­es in the dancehall.

Anoth­er impor­tant aspect of Jamaican life in local movies is that of reli­gion. Chris­t­ian denom­i­na­tions are gen­er­al­ly viewed with lit­tle sym­pa­thy, more as the “people’s opi­um” rather than as a com­fort in harsh con­di­tions. In The Hard­er They Come, the Preach­er is sup­posed to be the guardian of moral­i­ty and sex, but he is cor­rupt­ed by his social role. He dis­likes Ivan because Ivan rep­re­sents every­thing he stands against: free­dom (in music, dress, love, and sex) and the lack of moral and social val­ues. Only Rock­ers shows sym­pa­thy toward Revival, under­lin­ing the many sim­i­lar­i­ties between this reli­gion and Rasta­fari, espe­cial­ly through the rhyth­mic chants and dances. Oth­er reli­gions and belief sys­tems (Pen­te­costal­ism, Kumi­na, Obeah) are viewed with scepticism.

Yet almost every Jamaican direc­tor depicts and ide­al­izes one reli­gion: Rasta­fari. Four movies have a Ras­ta as a main char­ac­ter. Among these four only Chil­dren Of Baby­lon presents a neg­a­tive Rasta—the new­ly con­vert­ed Luke, who asserts male dom­i­nance on his part­ners, reflect­ing his social envi­ron­ment. By con­trast, in The Hard­er They Come, Pedro (fig. 3) is an almost hero­ic fig­ure, Ivan’s oppo­site and his only friend. Rock­ers is a Ras­ta movie, shot in the Ras­ta com­mu­ni­ties in Trench Town. The char­ac­ters are all Ras­tas, the point of view is Ras­ta, the lan­guage is Ras­ta talk, and the entire movie spreads the One Love phi­los­o­phy. In this movie we find the utopia of a Ras­ta soci­ety as an ide­al soci­ety, as an exam­ple of an alter­na­tive way of life. Coun­try­man also ide­al­izes Rasta­fari phi­los­o­phy with a com­plete­ly pos­i­tive depic­tion. The ide­al­iza­tion and the roman­ti­cis­ing of Ras­tas is obvi­ous, avoid­ing any rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the movement’s imper­fec­tions and con­tra­dic­tions. This unabashed glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of Rasta­fari is prob­a­bly the main crit­i­cism of these movies: they ide­al­ize Rasta­fari, for­get­ting that Ras­tas are human beings who err as any oth­ers. Yet these rep­re­sen­ta­tions cre­ate a new pos­i­tive stereo­type for Jamaica.

Figure 3. Ras Daniel Hartman as Pedro in The Harder They Come, the first Rasta ever to appear in a feature film.

Fig­ure 3. Ras Daniel Hart­man as Pedro in The Hard­er They Come, the first Ras­ta ever to appear in a fea­ture film.

One movie in par­tic­u­lar focus­es on reli­gion as a main theme: One Love, in which Pen­te­costal­ism, Rasta­fari, Obeah, and Bobo Ashan­ti are mixed in a love sto­ry cross­ing dif­fer­ent beliefs. Despite a con­stant rival­ry between the reli­gions, Rasta­fari and the Ras­ta envi­ron­ment are depict­ed as pos­i­tive, as the Gar­den of Eden. Ras­tas show open minds and sym­pa­thy. Pen­te­costal­ism, in con­trast, is unsym­pa­thet­i­cal­ly depict­ed as strict, close-mind­ed, and full of prej­u­dices. The blind faith in Obeah of Selec­tor G is ridiculed, so that, again, the only pos­i­tive reli­gion appears to be Rasta­fari. A hap­py con­clu­sion can be reached only through com­pro­mise and the devel­op­ment of respect for the oth­er reli­gions. In the end, every­body is hap­py because they have all sac­ri­ficed some­thing to be enriched by the oth­er faiths.

The major­i­ty of the movies men­tioned take place in down­town Kingston, the city’s ghet­tos; few movies are set in the coun­try­side. Henzell’s movie, shot in Trench Town, estab­lished the trend towards the urban. Hen­zell thought he could find authen­tic Jamaican cul­ture among the com­mon peo­ple. In those years, this place rep­re­sent­ed the core of Jamaican cre­ativ­i­ty, what Hen­zell want­ed for his films. The Hard­er They Come was shot in the streets, in almost exclu­sive­ly exte­ri­or scenes. The city is chaot­ic and over­crowd­ed but also joy­ous, vibrant, and a place of sol­i­dar­i­ty. This per­spec­tive on the city would be con­tin­ued by all the lat­er direc­tors shoot­ing in Kingston: the city can be vio­lent but it is also the only place where low­er-class Jamaicans can find solidarity—for instance, in Rock­ers, Dance­hall Queen, and Third World Cop. Jamaican direc­tors have elect­ed Kingston as their major loca­tion, with their strik­ing com­mit­ment to a “real­ism” that depicts the city in all its con­tra­dic­to­ry facets. In con­trast, the direc­tors who chose to shoot their movies in the coun­try­side offer an idyl­lic por­tray­al of the rur­al life, maybe with a for­eign audi­ence in mind. This hap­pens, for instance, in Chil­dren of Baby­lon, which tries to show a pos­i­tive image of Jamaica; fur­ther­more, in One Love, the coun­try­side appears in all its splen­dour, giv­ing a dreamy aura to the movie, per­vad­ed by har­mo­ny and beau­ty. The Ras­ta environment—clean, hap­py, self-suf­fi­cient, respect­ful of Nature—appears in Coun­try­man too, while in The Lunatic, the most impor­tant aspect of coun­try life seems to be that own­ing a house defines one’s a place in society.

What appears from these movies is Jamaica, beau­ti­ful and full of con­tra­dic­tions, in its lived real­i­ty. The direc­tors try to dis­cred­it the neg­a­tive stereo­types about Kingston and its ghet­tos; in fact, through the movie’s per­spec­tive, the city appears hard but encour­ag­ing (fig. 4).

Figure 4. The chaotic but joyful Kingston in The Harder They Come (left) and the dreamy aura of the Rasta village in One Love.

Fig­ure 4. The chaot­ic but joy­ful Kingston in The Hard­er They Come (left) and the dreamy aura of the Ras­ta vil­lage in One Love (right).

The char­ac­ters’ appear­ance (not only dress but also acces­sories, means of trans­port, hous­es, and belong­ings), is impor­tant because it pro­vides a sense of social sta­tus. In The Hard­er They Come, Ivan’s con­scious use of fash­ion is quite strik­ing. He changes his wardrobe and means of trans­port when he climbs the social lad­der; the more his social sta­tus grows, the more he changes his appear­ance: from the sim­ple clothes he had at the begin­ning to the flashy clothes of the gang­ster (includ­ing the sym­bol­ic guns; fig. 5); from the pub­lic bus to a bicy­cle, then a motor­bike, then a con­vert­ible Mer­cedes. The cli­max arrives when he objec­ti­fies him­self by hav­ing some pho­tographs tak­en as “the bad man.” How­ev­er, he acquires no real pow­er; he is the form with­out the sub­stance. For Ivan, appear­ance is more impor­tant than any­thing else, as G.L. Year­wood argues in his analy­sis of myth and sig­ni­fi­ca­tion in this movie.

Figure 5. The Harder They Come: Ivan portrays himself as a gangster-star.

Fig­ure 5. The Hard­er They Come: Ivan por­trays him­self as a gangster-star.

In every movie, appear­ances denote the character’s sta­tus. How­ev­er, two movies are inter­est­ing for their absence of clothes. Coun­try­man shows the life of a man liv­ing close to nature, at the low­er stra­ta of soci­ety. Thus, he wears no clothes and owns no means of trans­port. On the con­trary, Chil­dren Of Baby­lon is set among the upper stra­ta of soci­ety, but here it seems that mon­ey and edu­ca­tion allow women to take off their clothes quite freely. The film depicts a kind of role rever­sal between Pen­ny and Dor­cas, Luke’s two women. At first Pen­ny is free; she wears few or no clothes and has sex with any­one. At the end, when she becomes Luke’s woman, she fol­lows his orders and appears entire­ly “cov­ered.” On the oth­er side, Dor­cas, Luke’s wife, is total­ly cov­ered and nobody notices her. She is nev­er naked and when she com­mits sui­cide she choos­es a sym­bol­ic red dress from the landlady’s wardrobe. Pen­ny and Dor­cas are two sides of the same coin: Pen­ny rep­re­sents the “city,” sophis­ti­cat­ed, eman­ci­pat­ed, unin­hib­it­ed, smart, while Dor­cas rep­re­sents the “coun­try­side,” back­ward and une­d­u­cat­ed. In the end, how­ev­er, the film shows that there is lit­tle dis­tance between them.

In The Lunatic, clothes are rel­e­vant because, as with hous­es, own­ing or not own­ing clothes means belong­ing or not to cer­tain groups in soci­ety. Once the char­ac­ters are accept­ed in soci­ety, they start wear­ing the appro­pri­ate clothes. In the gang­ster movies, such as Third World Cop, clothes and jew­ellery are impor­tant because they char­ac­ter­ize the gangster’s sta­tus (fig. 6).

Figure 6. Countryman in the movie of the same title;, and some gangsters in Third World Cop.

Fig­ure 6. Coun­try­man in the movie of the same title (left) and some gang­sters in Third World Cop (right).

Jamaican cin­e­ma is main­ly a male domain and does very lit­tle to dis­cred­it the stereo­types of the vio­lent, rough, and tough Jamaican Man. In Jamaican movies men are aggres­sive, some­times vio­lent, and street-wise. This por­tray­al is par­tic­u­lar­ly true of gang­ster movies. Yet the gang­sters in movies are admired, renowned, and their sta­tus is aspi­ra­tional for much of the Jamaican audi­ence, espe­cial­ly the ghet­to peo­ple who respect them. Thus, to please the Jamaican audi­ence, all men in Jamaican movies are assertive, tough, “macho,” self-assured, and vio­lent when need­ed. If, how­ev­er, Jamaican movies rein­force the stereo­types about Jamaican mas­culin­i­ty, these films are also dif­fer­ent from Hollywood’s stereo­types about Jamaicans. In Hol­ly­wood movies, they are only drug deal­ers, pros­ti­tutes, piti­less, and unabashed­ly evil. In Jamaican movies, there can be machos, but these fig­ures always retain their human­i­ty: the audi­ence sym­pa­thizes with them, likes them despite what­ev­er they do.

All these fea­tures are com­mon to the Jamaican movies that have fol­lowed The Hard­er They Come’s exam­ple. Obvi­ous­ly, lat­er movies have also intro­duced new themes and tech­niques to keep the pace with the chang­ing times. Jamaican cin­e­ma may be accused of being too com­mer­cial, but this has been a delib­er­ate choice. In fact, a prof­itable movie needs to be acces­si­ble to all audi­ences, with mass appeal, which explains the great num­ber of action movies. Mar­ketabil­i­ty is also the rea­son why Jamaican movies are real­is­tic, in that they rep­re­sent like­ly sit­u­a­tions and mir­ror the country’s pop­u­lar cul­ture. This mass cul­ture is val­ued because Jamaican cin­e­ma rep­re­sents Jamaica; it is an expres­sion of iden­ti­ty in which Jamaicans can rec­og­nize themselves.

To con­clude, a Jamaican cin­e­mato­graph­ic tra­di­tion has final­ly appeared in the wake of The Hard­er They Come and the films that fol­lowed. Direc­tors face sim­i­lar themes with sim­i­lar meth­ods and address the same social class­es. Jamaican cin­e­ma is local and tries to show the coun­try and its peo­ple as close as pos­si­ble to real­i­ty. The films pro­mote Jamaican low­er-class cul­ture as the most valu­able sign of authen­tic­i­ty and iden­ti­ty of the island. Above all, Jamaican cin­e­ma gives a new vision of the coun­try and its pop­u­la­tion, one with which Jamaicans can iden­ti­fy. The rel­a­tive­ly new local movie pro­duc­tion pro­vides alter­na­tives to neg­a­tive images cre­at­ed from abroad, and engen­ders a new sense of self-con­scious­ness and pride. Jamaicans can watch a movie depict­ing them­selves with­out prej­u­dices and be grat­i­fied by the “plea­sure of recog­ni­tion.” Self-rep­re­sen­ta­tion offers them a new range of pos­si­bil­i­ties, from sim­ple iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with the char­ac­ters, the sto­ry, or set­ting, to the sat­is­fac­tion that pop­u­lar cul­ture is final­ly show­ing a more authen­tic depic­tion of the coun­try and its pop­u­la­tion. The Hard­er They Come set the trend; sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the desire for self-rep­re­sen­ta­tion coin­cid­ed with Jamaican inde­pen­dence. Since then, Jamaican cin­e­ma has fol­lowed the tra­di­tion Henzell’s aston­ish­ing movie estab­lished, not only in style and themes but also in pur­pose. Every Jamaican cin­e­mat­ic self-rep­re­sen­ta­tion has val­ued the coun­try, its cul­ture, tra­di­tions, and above all its pop­u­la­tion in order to give to every Jamaican, no mat­ter what social class, edu­ca­tion, or reli­gion, and to non-Jamaicans as well, a fresh and real­is­tic por­tray­al of Jamaica. Hope­ful­ly, as local pro­duc­tion devel­ops, more stud­ies will appear to add new insights to the much-need­ed crit­i­cism on this nation­al cinema.

Works Cit­ed

A Daugh­ter of the Gods. Dir. Her­bert Brenon. Perf. Annette Keller­man, William E. Shay, Hal de For­est. 1916. Film.

A Woman’s Hon­or. Dir. Roland West. Perf. Bradley Bark­er, Jose Collins, Armand Cortes. 1916. Film.

Browne, Chris. Per­son­al inter­view. 15 Nov. 2007.

Cham, Mbye, ed. Ex-Iles – Essays On Caribbean Cin­e­ma. Tren­ton, New Jer­sey: Africa World Press, 1992. Print.

Chil­dren Of Baby­lon. Dir. Lenny Lit­tle-White. Perf. Tobi, Don Parch­ment, Bob Andy. 1980. Jamaica, Medi­amix Pro­duc­tions. Unavail­able home video for­mat. Film.

Coop­er, Car­olyn. Sound Clash: Jamaican Dance­hall Cul­ture At Large. New York, N.Y., and Hamp­shire, Eng­land: Pal­grave, MacMil­lan, 2004. Print.

Coun­try­man. Dir. Dick­ie Job­son. Perf. Coun­try­man, Hiram Keller, Carl Brad­shaw. 1982. Jamaica, Onion Pic­tures Cor­po­ra­tion, Palm Pic­tures, 2004. DVD.

Dance­hall Queen. Dir. Don Letts and Rick Elgo­od. Perf. Audrey Reid, Carl Davis, Paul Camp­bell. 1997. Jamaica, Onion Pic­tures Cor­po­ra­tion, Palm Pic­tures, 1998. DVD.

Flame of Pas­sion. Dir. Tom Ter­riss. Perf. Tom Ter­riss, Ella­line Ter­riss, Rien­zi de Cor­do­va. 1915. Film.

Ghett’A Life. Dir. Chris Browne. Perf. Win­ston Bell, Kevoy Bur­ton, O’Daine Clarke. 2011. Film.

Glo­ry To Glo­ri­ana. Dir. Lenny Lit­tle-White. Perf. Car­ol Camp­bell, Rod­ney Camp­bell, Gra­cie-Ann Wat­son. 2006. Jamaica, Medi­amix Pro­duc­tions, Jet Star, 2007. DVD.

Hall, Stu­art. “Cul­tur­al Iden­ti­ty and Cin­e­mat­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tion.” Ex-Iles: Essays on Caribbean Cin­e­ma. Ed. Mbye Cham. Tren­ton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1992. 220-36. Print

How Stel­la Got Her Groove Back. Dir. Kevin Rod­ney Sul­li­van. Perf. Angela Bas­sett, Taye Dig­gs, Whoopi Gold­berg. 1998. Film.

Marked for Death. Dir. Dwight H. Lit­tle. Perf. Steven Sea­gal, Joan­na Pac­u­la, Basil Wal­lace. 1990. Film.

Mar­shall, Vic­to­ria M. “Film­mak­ing in Jamaica: ‘Likkle but Tallawah’.” Ex-Iles: Essays on Caribbean Cin­e­ma. Ed. Mbye Cham. Tren­ton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1992. 98-105. Print

One Love. Dir. Don Letts and Rick Elgo­od. Perf. Ky-Mani Mar­ley, Cher­ine Ander­son, Win­ston Bell. 2003. Jamaica/Denmark, Film Coun­cil and Bak­er Street in asso­ci­a­tion with BV Inter­na­tion­al Pic­tures, Take4 Pro­duc­tion, One Love Films/ Euro­max / Exposed / Nik Pow­ell FilmVP Music Group Inc., 2005. DVD. Orig­i­nal screen­play by Trevor Rhone, based on an orig­i­nal sto­ry by Yvonne Deutschman.

Preda­tor 1. Dir. John McTier­nan. Perf. Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger, Carl Weath­ers, Kevin Peter Hall. 1987. Film.

Preda­tor 2. Dir. Stephen Hop­kins. Perf. Dan­ny Glover, Gary Busey, Kevin Peter Hall. 1990. Film.

Queen of the Sea. Dir. John G. Adolfi. Perf. Annette Keller­man, Hugh Thomp­son, Mil­dred Keats. 1918. Film.

Rail­road Panora­ma near Span­ish­town, Jamaica. Edi­son Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pa­ny. 1903. Short Documentary.

Rhone, Trevor D. Per­son­al inter­view. 16 Nov. 2007.

Rock­ers. Dir. Theodor­ous Bafaloukos. Perf. Leroy “Horse­mouth” Wal­lace, Richard “Dirty Har­ry” Hall, Mon­i­ca Craig. 1979. Jamaica, Blue Sun Film Com­pa­ny, Blue Sun Film Co., 2005. DVD.

Ruprecht, Alv­ina and Cecil­ia Taiana, eds. The Reorder­ing of Cul­ture: Latin Amer­i­ca, The Caribbean and Cana­da in the Hood. Cana­da: Car­leton Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1995. Print.

Shohat, Ella and Robert Stam. Unthink­ing Euro­cen­trism – Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and the Media. Lon­don and New York: Rout­ledge, 1994. Print.

Smile Orange. Dir. Trevor D. Rhone. Perf. Carl Brad­shaw, Glenn Mor­ri­son, Stan­ley Irons. 1974. Jamaica. Knuts Pro­duc­tion Lim­it­ed, Island Enter­tain­ment, 2004. DVD. Based on a play by Trevor Rhone.

Tasker Yvonne. Spec­tac­u­lar Bod­ies: Gen­der, Genre and the Action Cin­e­ma. Lon­don and New York: Rout­ledge, 1993. Print.

The Hard­er They Come. Dir. Per­ry Hen­zell. Perf. Jim­my Cliff, Carl Brad­shaw, Janet Bart­ley. 1972. Jamaica, Inter­na­tion­al Films Ltd, Xenon Pic­tures Inc., 2006. DVD.

The Lunatic. Dir. Lol Crème. Perf. Julie T. Wal­lace, Paul Camp­bell, Carl Brad­shaw. 1991. Jamaica, Island Pic­tures, Man­ga Enter­tain­ment, 1992. VHS. Based on a nov­el by Antho­ny C. Winkler.

The Rul­ing Pas­sion. Dir. James C. McK­ay. Perf. William E. Shay, Claire Whit­ney, Har­ry Burkhardt. 1916. Film.

The Pearl of the Antilles. Dir. Tom Ter­riss. Perf. Tom Ter­riss, Tessie de Cor­do­va, Paul Har­vey. 1915. Film.

Third World Cop. Dir. Chris Browne. Perf. Paul Camp­bell, Mark Dan­vers, Carl Brad­shaw. 1999. Jamaica, Palm Pic­tures and Island Jamaica Films in asso­ci­a­tion with Hawk’s Nest Pro­duc­tions. Palm Pic­tures, 2000. DVD.

Wel­come to Film Jamaica. http://​film​ja​maica​.com/​i​n​d​e​x​.​p​h​p​?​a​c​t​i​o​n​=​j​a​_​f​i​lms. Web. 03 June 2011.

Wide Sar­gas­so Sea. Dir. John Duigan. Perf. Kari­na Lom­bard, Nathaniel Park­er, Rachel Ward. 1993. Film.


Image Notes

Fig­ure 1: Hall, Kevin Peter. The Preda­tor. 1987 and 1990. http://​vil​lains​.wikia​.com/​w​i​k​i​/​P​r​e​d​a​t​ors. Web. 11 Feb. 2013. And, Wal­lace, Basil. Screw­face. 1990. http://​www​.reel​bas​tards​.com/​1​0​-​r​e​a​s​o​n​s​-​s​t​e​v​e​n​-​s​e​a​g​a​l​-​s​t​i​l​l​-​r​o​c​ks/. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

Fig­ure 2: Reid, Audrey. Dance­hall Queen. Dir. Don Letts and Rick Elgo­od. Perf. Audrey Reid, Carl Davis, Paul Camp­bell. 1997. Jamaica, Onion Pic­tures Cor­po­ra­tion, Palm Pic­tures, 1998. DVD.

Fig­ure 3: Hart­man, Ras Daniel; Kingston. The Hard­er They Come. Dir. Per­ry Hen­zell. Perf. Jim­my Cliff, Carl Brad­shaw, Janet Bart­ley. 1972. Jamaica, Inter­na­tion­al Films Ltd, Xenon Pic­tures Inc., 2006. DVD.

Fig­ure 4: Jamaica/Denmark, Film Coun­cil and Bak­er Street in asso­ci­a­tion with BV Inter­na­tion­al Pic­tures, Take4 Pro­duc­tion, One Love Films/ Euro­max / Exposed / Nik Pow­ell FilmVP Music Group Inc., 2005. And, Ras­ta vil­lage. One Love. Dir. Don Letts and Rick Elgo­od. Perf. Ky-Mani Mar­ley, Cher­ine Ander­son, Win­ston Bell. 2003.

Fig­ure 5: Cliff, Jim­my; Kingston. The Hard­er They Come. Dir. Per­ry Hen­zell. Perf. Jim­my Cliff, Carl Brad­shaw, Janet Bart­ley. 1972. Jamaica, Inter­na­tion­al Films Ltd, Xenon Pic­tures Inc., 2006. DVD.

Fig­ure 6: Coun­try­man. Dir. Dick­ie Job­son. Perf. Coun­try­man, Hiram Keller, Carl Brad­shaw. Jamaica, Onion Pic­tures Cor­po­ra­tion, Palm Pic­tures, 2004. DVD. And, Dan­vers, Mark. Third World Cop. Dir. Chris Browne. Perf. Paul Camp­bell, Mark Dan­vers, Carl Brad­shaw. 1999. Jamaica, Palm Pic­tures and Island Jamaica Films in asso­ci­a­tion with Hawk’s Nest Pro­duc­tions. Palm Pic­tures, 2000. DVD.



[1] For a list of movies shot in Jamaica, see Titles for Jamaica film­ing loca­tions. Web. 26 May 2011; and Wel­come to Film Jamaica. Web. 03 June 2011.

[2] Stephen Hop­kins’ Preda­tor 2 (1990) is an Amer­i­can movie with Dan­ny Glover, Gary Busey, and Kevin Peter Hall in the role of the preda­tor. Here the alien mon­ster is con­struct­ed as a Jamaican Ras­ta, in that he is giv­en dread­locks. There are also oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics that link him not only to the Jamaican drug gangs of the peri­od in Los Ange­les, but also to Vodun—another instance of the use of clichés by the direc­tor, who did not real­ize that Vodun is prac­ticed in Haiti and not in Jamaica. More­over, Vodun is a reli­gion, not the set of stereo­types pro­mot­ed by Hol­ly­wood cin­e­ma. An inter­est­ing analy­sis of this aspect of the film can be found in Tasker Yvonne. Spec­tac­u­lar Bod­ies: Gen­der, Genre and the Action Cin­e­ma. Lon­don and New York: Rout­ledge, 1993, 47-53. Basil Wal­lace as Screw­face in Marked For Death. Web. 11 Feb. 2013, and Kevin Peter Hall as The Preda­tor in Preda­tor 1 and 2. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

[3] John Duigan, Wide Sar­gas­so Sea, 1993. For a full cita­tion of this and all the oth­er movies quot­ed in this arti­cle, see the Works Cit­ed list.

[4] Kevin Rod­ney Sul­li­van, How Stel­la Got Her Groove Back, 1998. It is true that in this movie, based on a true sto­ry, the Jamaican char­ac­ter does not seem to need a visa or mon­ey, but his behav­iour resem­bles that of a pros­ti­tute search­ing for an escape from the island.

[5] Chris Browne. Per­son­al inter­view. 15 Nov. 2007.

[6] I list major pro­duc­tions since Per­ry Henzell’s The Hard­er They Come in my Works Cit­ed. The fol­low­ing sites pro­vide fur­ther details: http://​caribbean​film​.org/ and http://​www​.new​caribbeancin​e​ma​.com/

[7] Chris Browne. Per­son­al inter­view. 15 Nov. 2007.

[8] Trevor D Rhone. Per­son­al inter­view. 16 Nov. 2007.

[9] As not­ed by Year­wood Glad­stone L. “Myth and Sig­ni­fi­ca­tion in Per­ry Henzell’s The Hard­er They Come.The Reorder­ing of Cul­ture: Latin Amer­i­ca, the Caribbean and Cana­da in the Hood. Eds. Alv­ina Ruprecht and Cecil­ia Taiana. Cana­da: Car­leton Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1995. 437-455. Print.

Copy­right Sab­ri­na Cec­ca­to. This arti­cle is licensed under a Cre­ative Com­mons 3.0 License although cer­tain works ref­er­enced here­in may be sep­a­rate­ly licensed, or the author has exer­cised their right to fair deal­ing under the Cana­di­an Copy­right Act.