Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Him shoot, him loot, him fall...

Remember this one? A must if you're fed up with getting the short end of the stick. One of the rare soundtracks that genuinely moves the film along without feeling sutured on to the story. The songs set the mood and Jimmy Cliff and the other excellent actors break it down further into real life. It's a movie about being fed up with powerlessness and taking on God and gods. Ivan (Jimmy Cliff) doesn't dream of a great God in the sky, he dreams about what he can have right now if he tries hard enough to remove the obstacles that stand in his way...

Well they tell me of a pie up in the sky
Waiting for me when I die
But between the day you're born and when you die
They never seem to hear even your cry

So as sure as the sun will shine
I'm gonna get my share now of what's mine
And then the harder they come the harder they'll fall, one and all
Ooh the harder they come the harder they'll fall, one and all

Many parallels to Black Orpheus although Kingston in 1972 seems like a less mysterious place than Rio in 1959. Both films are made by white men drawn by the music and the romance of black tropical cultures. One hero descends into hell to retrieve his love, another to retrieve his identity. Love and self-love, they both end badly (by most yardsticks). Still, these films are very much centered on the dramatic notion that it is better for a comet to burn brightly for an instant than for a distant star to go unrecognized for eternity. The yearning, the crossing of rivers, and the inevitable fall. The pressure of dropping through the atmosphere and burning up under our own weight. Is it as valiant in real life as it is in the movies?


Anonymous brian said...

how many times in junior high did I attempt to draw
the cover of this album! in pen, crayon, blood if I was smart enough. this was my favorite
album as a newly minted teen. it opened the world for me by shutting the door to AM radio. it seemed to speak the language of the time in confused, dirty, racial, overpopulated, gritty new york and somehow
washed it all clean. Hey, there's even a Desmond Dekker song for you, mon!
i saw the film (shot in 16mm!) in its first run in Corona Queens near my school with my friends Albert Guy and Darrell Jackson. Albert was the artist, Darrell was the kung fu expert and I had the jewfro.

9:32 PM  

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