Jamaican Cinema

In: Film and Music

Submitted By slender
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Pages 10
Ben May Film 1006: Post-War World Cinema 15/5/09

Critical Essay: Jamaican Cinema (focus – The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell, Jamaica, 1971)

‘Representing Jamaican culture on the screen, how The Harder They Come triggered the development of Jamaican cinema.’

The Harder They Come was the first movie made in Jamaica, directed by a Jamaican and with a Jamaican theme. The film opened the country’s eyes to the creation of film and the industry that surrounds it. It also gave the world (particularly the West) its first filmic taste of the cultural, social and historical issues of 20th century Jamaica. It was not only successful in the eyes of its audience but also in the eyes of film critics worldwide. Geoff Parker writes “Indisputably the greatest Jamaican film ever made, The Harder They Come is also one of the finest films yet made about the third world.” (2001). At first glance Perry Henzell appears to be using a narrative to document Jamaican roots Reggae music (especially that of Jimmy Cliff); but although The Harder They Come went a long way towards creating a huge global Reggae following the film had many other underlying issues. Even though most critics (Cham, Parker, Yearwood and others) discuss the film as the one that popularised Reggae music in the West it is the task here to illustrate that The Harder They Come brought Jamaican society and its culture into cinematic visibility. Cinema in Jamaica had only a western and predominantly Hollywood face until the release of The Harder They Come, but the meta-filmic self awareness of Henzell’s socially involved movie proved this was going to change. Jamaica as a country was in a relatively new social, political, and economical climate, its main export industries were changing from bananas and coffee to bauxite and alumina, and the country experienced a…...

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