Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Respect for Trevor Rhone

Jamaican playwright Trevor Rhone died of a heart attack in Kingston last week. He was 69.

I never got a chance to see Rhone's plays, and the loss is truly mine. But I have seen--a few times--one of his works: "The Harder They Come" a mindblowing 1972 Jamaican film starring reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff as an ill-fated outlaw. Rhone, co-writer of the tight, powerful script, fearlessly used patois in the script which--along with the documentary-style cinematography--gives the movie a sense of realism. (Watch "Harder" and you'll forever laugh at the "yeah mon" pidgin English that passes for Jamaican dialect in most American movies.)

"Harder" is a uncompromising film with beautiful music woven into the scenes and the plot. Truth be told, the movie packs a bigger wallop than almost all of the far more celebrated movies of American blaxploitation genre (perhaps with the exception being "Across 110th Street.") "The Harder They Come" isn't talked about much these days. But it should be. Check it out. And when you do, give a nod to Brother Trevor.

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