Seven Films Based in the Caribbean

Banner of a boat on a Caribbean beach

These films are from the Caribbean. They are set and produced in the Caribbean with stories about life there, real or fictional.

The Harder They Come (1972)

This is a film classic with original music by Jimmy Cliff in the film. This film was originally made in Jamaica in the 1970s with the streets and countryside captured a time capsule in a film. This film is about a young singer struggling to made it as a musician. The musician gets entangled with drug smuggling and possession for criminals which changes him for the worst. This is regarded as one of the most influential films that came out of Jamaica and the most important film from the Caribbean. The established setting and the story is very strong in the film and the characters are easy to connect with their motivations and strengths. There is a lot of music throughout the film from Jimmy Cliff, a ska and reggae musician from Jamaica. The Harder They Come soundtrack is also known for popularizing reggae even more to an international market in the 1970s. The soundtrack was on #140 on Billboard 200 in 1973.

Cool Runnings (1993)

This film is a Disney classic. Most of the film is fictional but it was inspired by true events to the actual Jamaican bobsled team. This film is about a runner who tried out for the 1988 Summer Olympics. He failed his meet but changed his focus on how to get to the Olympics by focusing on how to compete in the Winter Olympics in Calgary. He gathers three recruits and gets coaching assistance from an ex-bobsledding coach. The film has two distinctive parts in the film the first part taking place around the warm and sunny Kingston area in Jamaica and the second half taking place in Calgary, Alberta Canada in the dead of winter for the games. This is a great story to watch for an introduction in some sports history and a great story about motivation to achieve goals.

Countryman (1982)

This film classic is about a fisherman fighting against political corruption. This film was based and filmed in 1980’s Jamaica. This film is mostly a crime thriller with a backdrop of reggae and ska music. And was dedicated to Bob Marley as inspiration for the film. The film follows a fisherman who saves a vacationing couple from a plane crash and nurses them back to health. The couple was out trying to smuggle marijuana from Jamaica but a political running mate wants to use the plane crash the lie to the public about the smuggling and government involved. The film ties in Rastafarianism and mysticism. This film doesn’t develop the villain’s role so much to focus on the lead character. There are some fight scenes and unclear talk about politics but it’s okay for a weekend.

The Mighty Quinn (1989)

The murder mystery The Mighty Quinn follows Police Chief Xavier Quinn (Denzel Washington) investigating a case building against his carryfree petty thief childhood friend Maubee (Robert Townsend). He is entangled in a murder investigation of a mllionaire that leads to some film noir like territory. Quinn doesn’t believe that he is the culprit and clashes with the inept governor and a wealthy arrogant political fixer. The crime-mystery thriller has some twists that build upon an interesting reveal. The accents are very plausible. Denzel Washington is a leading smooth operator that drives this film. It has some beautifully shotted scenes because of well thoughtout storyboard planning. It adds to the smooth delivery of every actor’s performance. It’s based on the detective novel Finding Maubee by Albert H.Z. Carr based in the fictional port city of St. Caro but was filmed on locaton in Jamaica around Port Antonio.

Island in the Sun (1957)

This was based on a book by Alex Waugh titled of the same name. The music is most by Harry Belafonte, the King of Calypso. Set in the 1950’s British-ruled country which intertwining story of a quick-tempered plantation owner, a young political candidate and a small romance. This film is about racism, inequality, romance, politics and adultery. The film was based around a mansion in Farley Hill, Barbados. This is a classic film that had a great reception financially and was Dorothy Dandridge’s comeback movie from a four year hiatus.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

A workaholic goes on vacation and finds fun and love in Montego Bay, Jamaica with a man almost half her age. This was based on the book of the same title by Terry McMillian. This was the second movie by the author that stars Angela Bassett. The story was inspired by the life experiences of how the author met her future husband. It’s a romance movie with some drama in the film especially near the end of the film. I remember when this movie came out and the reception of the film was pretty good.

Before Night Falls (2000)

This film can be really sad but it is memorable and based on a true story. It based on the life of Reinaldo Arenas and his life in the Cuban dictatorship of Fidel Castro, his relationships and friendship with his friends. It showcases his openly gay lifestyle in a time of oppression and his multiple attempts to escape the island. He discusses It was one of the best films of Javier Bardem’s acting career.

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