Made in Jamaica Movie Review
Made in Jamaica uses both choreographed performances and interview footage to tell the story of the people behind the music and to explain why Jamaican music has become so essential worldwide.
Some of the interviews in Made in Jamaica are truly excellent. Reggae cornerstone artists such as Toots, Gregory Isaacs and Bunny Wailer walk us through the Jamaica that shaped their lives and careers while offering their own opinions on the current situations. We are also treated to live performances, jamming sessions and rehearsals from these artists show casing why these guys were so successful in the first place. On the flip side we get informative and frank interviews with Elephant Man, Bounty Killer, Lady Saw and Joseph Current who explain the Dancehall lifestyle and its motives.
The fact that the movie isn't narrated helps to drop the viewer into the world the subjects live in. The film makers have also decided to subtitle the whole thing, this works well firstly because it adds clarity to some of the interviews and secondly we get an unparalleled insight into the lyrics of modern Dancehall via the subtitles.
What we learn in Made in Jamaica isn't all sweetness and light. Brought to the Caribbean from Africa by the Spanish to work on the cotton plantations then later ruled by the English, we are keenly informed real Jamaican history only started in 1962 with the country reaching its independence. Reggae music is the music of slaves and its roots can be traced to the poorest parts of the island.
The artists explain, over the years, Reggae music has been both their voice and comforter.
There is little film-making to assess here. Although the performances and scenes of day to day living are all shot beautifully it is in the editing suit that Laperrousaz has really crafted his piece. There is little flab on Made in Jamaica and although I have been a fan of Jamaican music for many years I left this movie with a far greater knowledge and understanding of this endlessly fascinating art form.
Opens October 23 @ Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)
Special screenings: Watershed Bristol Q&A with director Oct 22
Rio Dalston One Night Only Oct 24
ICA Q&A with director Oct 25