Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010

Time for Jamdown

Rare Reggae Footage


By David Luhrssen
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The colors in Jamdown have faded like an old home movie, which is essentially what the documentary comes down to being. French filmmaker Emmanuel Bonn shot this rarely seen movie in 1980 with much apparently random footage of Jamaica, including the verdant hilly countryside and the crowded streets of Kingston and seemingly catch-as-catch-can interviews with people encountered along the way. Of interest are the soulful performances by Toots & the Maytals and the Congos as they performed in the recording studio and other settings. The pretentious intertitles—Soweto, Angola, Watts—ineffectually linked the movie’s images with the worldwide struggle for black freedom. The words spoken and sung by the Jamaicans on camera were much more to the point. Jamdown has been released on DVD.
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