Whether it is the vivid history of conquest of the land or the spectacular details of the local scene, Jamaica has always inspired the minds of great writers and starred in the leading role on the big screen.
Here’s a round up of some of our favorite Jamaican films that were filmed or inspired by the Jamaican island life.
In 1870, a hurricane hits Jamaica. The Thorntons (Nigel Davenport and Isabel Dean) – parents of five children, believe it is best to send their children to England for a more civilized upbringing and education.
During the voyage, pirates board the ship and the children end up accidentally leaving on the pirate ship. The pirate captain, Chavez (Anthony Quinn) and first mate Zac (James Coburn) cannot risk getting a kidnapping charge and decide to sail to Tampico. Here, they leave the children in the safe keeping of Rosa (Lila Kedrova), a brothel madam with a good heart.
Fun Fact: Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean and the third-largest island in the Greater Antilles. Though they gained independence from Britain on August 6, 1962, Jamaica remains a member of the Commonwealth, still holding Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state, who is represented locally by the Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen. The political and educational systems in Jamaica are still of the Westminster model.
During the year 1866, ships of various nationalities sight a mysterious sea monster. Later, it was suggested it could be a giant narwhal. The U.S. government assembles an expedition in New York City to find and destroy the monster.
Fun Fact: This was the first science fiction film shot in CinemaScope. During 153 – 1967, CinemaScope used anamorphic lens to shoot widescreen movies that could be screened in theatres using existing equipment without a lens adapter.
Club Paradise (1986)
PG-13 | 1h 36min | Comedy
Jack Moniker (Robin Williams) is a retired firefighter who teams up with reggae singer Ernest Reed (Jimmy Cliff) to open a tropical island resort. In addition to local eccentrics such as British layabout Anthony Cloyden Hayes (Peter O’Toole), Jack and Ernest are joined by tourists eager to stay at their resort, including the goofy, party-seeking duo of Barry (Eugene Levy) and Barry (Rick Moranis). Unfortunately, whiny customers and greedy land developers threaten to spoil the fun.
Fun Fact: The movie was on set in Portland for four (4) months and featured reggae superstar – Jimmy Cliff most popularly known for hit songs such as Miss Jamaica, Many Rivers to Cross, I Can See Clearly Now, Rebel in Me.
In this Disney classic, a rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel (Jodi Benson) is fascinated with life on land. On one of her visits to the surface, which are forbidden by her controlling father, King Triton, she falls for a human prince. Determined to be with her new love, Ariel makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula (Pat Carroll) to become human for three days. But when plans go awry for the star-crossed lovers, the king must make the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter.
Fun Fact: Sebastian, the crustacean, was born in Jamaica to a huge family of crabs. After he grows up, he attends the Music Academy of Trinidad prior to joining King Triton’s staff as his assistant, advisor and confidant. The beloved Disney character was played by American actor Samuel E. Wright, who later won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Under the Sea”. The song later won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
Cool Runnings (1993)
PG | 1h 38min | Adventure, Comedy, Family
Four Jamaican bobsleighers dream of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite never having seen snow. With the help of a disgraced former champion desperate to redeem himself, the Jamaicans set out to become worthy of Olympic selection, and go all out for glory.
Fun fact: Jamaica participated in its first Winter Olympics in 1988 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The team was recruited from the Jamaica Defense Force which saw Dudley Stokes, Devon Harris and Michael White become the first members of the team. 30 years after their countrymen’s historic appearance, Jamaica sent its first women’s bobsleigh team to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
One Love (2003)
PG-13 | 1h 40min | Drama, Music, Romance
A gospel singer (Cherine Anderson) falls in love with a rasta musician (Ky-Mani Marley), but her religious father tries to keep them apart.
Fun fact: Jamaican reggae and hip-hop artist, Kymani Marley is the only child of reggae legend, Bob Marley with Anita Belnavis, a Jamaican table tennis champion. Lead actress, Cherine Anderson has performed with icons such as Sly and Robbie, Sting, Wyclef Jean, Bootsy Collins, Jimmy Cliff and Michael Franti.
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) arrives at Port Royal in the Caribbean without a ship or crew. His timing is inopportune, however, because later that evening the town is besieged by a pirate ship. The pirates kidnap the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), who is in possession of a valuable coin that is linked to a curse that has transformed the pirates into the undead. A gallant blacksmith (Orlando Bloom) in love with Elizabeth allies with Sparrow in pursuit of the pirates.
Fun Fact: Port Royal was once known as “the richest and wickedest city in the world”. Founded in 1518 by the Spanish, it was once the largest city in the Caribbean, and functioned as the centre of shipping and commerce in the Caribbean Sea by the latter half of the 17th century.