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The Rotten Economy and Social System in Jamaica after Colonialism as Depicted in The Film Life and Debt

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The documentary and adaption film, Life and Debt concretize the problematic and chaotic economy and social system of Jamaica, post-colonial time. The film, Life and Debt embodies some excerpts from a well-popular non-fiction text, “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid, stories of individual Jamaicans, and various perspectives of both sides. It presents various comparisons of both sides through the use of background music and juxtapositions. Moreover, it contributes an extraordinary and phenomenal outlook of the negative influence of globalization through point of views of Jamaican laborers, farmers, government agents, and others. Overall, the documentary film, Life and Debt successfully contributes a unique viewpoint of describing how the mechanism of debt is annihilating local production and agriculture, which thereby is negatively influencing the lives of the Jamaicans.

Life and Debt is produced and constructed by an outstanding and powerful team. The director and producer is Stephanie Black. She had previous experiences of directing a documentary film. H2 Worker is a previous documentary film directed by Black. This film discusses about the exploitation of Caribbean workers in the Florida sugar industry, which is related to this film since both films’ main attentions are on revealing the inequitable and hidden circumstances of the Caribbean laborers. Furthermore, this film is narrated by Belinda Becker. She has a modulated and orotund voice, which makes the audience feel sympathy and have a better understanding of the circumstances. For instance, in the scenery where the tourists are enjoying the bright and beautiful beach of Jamaica, the narrator repeatedly brings up this sentence “you see yourself”. Every time the narrator says this sentence, she says in a strong and passionate voice to empathize how the tourists see Jamaica in their eyes. This sentence is repeated to highlight the contrast between the tourists’ ideal Jamaica to Jamaica’s true situation. The narrator does a fabulous job in sending out the message to the audience. Moreover, the film is written by Jamaica Kincaid. The film inserted some excerpts from her text, “A Small Place”. By doing so, it increase the level of credibility since it is written by a popular author. The cinematography team should also be credited because they did an impressive and splendid job in organizing and arranging the storyboard. They make the entire film flows softly and clearly so the audience could comprehend and interpret. Overall, the film, Life and Debt is produced by the contribution of the team’s brilliance and talent.

The film, Life and Debt is formulated by a set of juxtapositions, presenting different perspectives on this topic. The film purposely arrange the opposing point of views next to each other, enforcing the audience to make comparison between these perspectives. The interviews of Michael Manley and Stanley Fischer are a perfect example. Manley, the former prime minister of Jamaica claims that the heavy debt Jamaica owe is dragging it down, He proclaims that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be considerate of the nation, and thus provide a plan that would promote national development instead of forcing the nation paying high interest rate. On the other side, Fischer states that the loan plan is ethical in an international view. This juxtaposition makes the film interesting and enthusiastic since it requires the audience to think critically. Furthermore, the film is broken down into two sections. The first half of the film focuses on the breakdown of the agriculture system, then the other half concentrates on the entering to the world of industrialization. By doing so, the audience will be able to interpret the changes over time thoroughly. Therefore, the structure of the film is arranged in well-organized method, and thus deliver the messages to the audience.

This film intentionally uses a great amount of background musics to move the story forward and to capture the hearts of the audience. Music has always been an essential component in any type of movie making because it creates an atmosphere and catches attention. This film uses background music (BGM) to manipulate the audience’s emotion. For instance, in the scene where the farmers are describing their situation and presenting their position, the music played was native and melancholy. This creates a sentimental atmosphere which matches with the situations of the farmers. Further along, the film uses different types of music in different portions. In parts where the tourists are presented, the music is soothing and slow which depicting relief and relaxation whereas in the scenes of the farmers, the music played are more melancholy. The background musics are contribute a comparison of point of views between local farmers and the foreign tourists. Therefore, this film makes a magnificent attempt in combining the use of music with the storyline.

The film Life and Debt provides a splendid critique reflecting the troublesome economy and social system of Jamaica. The producer and her team accomplish an impressive job in combining the use of marvelous features such as background music and juxtaposition with its storyline and its claim. In conclusion, the overall structure, music, and scenery, along with its team’s effort and hard work, all contribute to the production of this fantastic and unraveling film, Life and Debt.

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The Rotten Economy And Social System In Jamaica After Colonialism As Depicted In The Film Life And Debt. (2018, November 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from
“The Rotten Economy And Social System In Jamaica After Colonialism As Depicted In The Film Life And Debt.” GradesFixer, 05 Nov. 2018,
The Rotten Economy And Social System In Jamaica After Colonialism As Depicted In The Film Life And Debt. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Nov. 2021].
The Rotten Economy And Social System In Jamaica After Colonialism As Depicted In The Film Life And Debt [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Nov 05 [cited 2021 Nov 28]. Available from:
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