The Long Lost Film Predicting How Tourism Would Ruin Jamaica

The year is 1972. The man is Jimmy Cliff, squatted with two pistols ready to fire. The clothes are a tiger-print shirt paired with black-and-white striped bell bottoms. Cliff plays Ivan, the criminal superstar of Perry Henzell’s film The Harder They Come. The place is the downtown ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica. The soundtrack is Toots & The Maytals, Desmond Dekker, and Jimmy himself. It is the soundtrack that brings reggae music to the world. “When I first read the script, I asked Perry if he was sure he wanted to show this side of Jamaica to the world,” said Jimmy Cliff in an interview with The Daily Beast. Henzell’s answer was yes, no matter the consequences. Loosely based on the true story of a Jamaican outlaw, Rhyging, the film follows Ivan after he moves from the idyllic countryside to the capital of Kingston, and becomes hardened by life in the ghetto. Ivan fails to find work and becomes more and more bitter as he is taken advantage of by a record producer while hustling to become a singer. Inspired by Spaghetti Westerns, Ivan becomes a notorious criminal, eventually leading to his downfall and ultimately his death. However, Cliff wasn’t pleased… Read full this story

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