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Rockers CIA

from The Daily Beast

CIA, Guns, and Rasta: Inside the Making of Reggae’s Most Iconic Film

Rockers is an absolutely wild movie with a backstory that’s much, much wilder.

by Patricia Meschino

Rockers is, arguably, the finest reggae movie ever made. 

The 1978 film tells the story of a financially struggling drummer, Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (portraying himself), who buys a motorbike with the intention of making extra money by distributing producers’ records to shops across the island. When the bike is stolen by an upper-class organized crime ring, Horsemouth and his friends set out to retrieve it and take back most of the criminals’ ill-gotten goods and distribute them to Kingston’s ghetto dwellers.

The skeletal plot is best summarized as a Jamaican reinterpretation of the legend of Robin Hood meets Italian director Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, yet Rockers mesmerizes as a kaleidoscopic view of late ’70s reggae, one of the most fascinating eras in Jamaican music’s trajectory, and in its respectful, almost mystical presentation of Rastafarian culture, a relatively unknown way of life at the time of the film’s international debut. 

Made on a budget of $250,000 and directed by Theodoros “Ted” Bafaloukos, Rockers caused a near riot at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979 when crowds clamoring for tickets to the four scheduled sold-out screenings jammed the streets surrounding the theater and refused to leave. A review in the French daily Le Monde enthused, “Rockers is not a film, it is a work of art. So good it is difficult to believe, yet it is real.”

Rockers secured U.S. distribution in 1980; 40 years later, the film continues to be widely screened, critically lauded, and now, meticulously documented in a spectacular 320-page coffee table book, published by Gingko Press. Rockers: The Making of Reggae’s Most Iconic Film, was initially written by Bafaloukos in 2005 (he died in 2016 at age 70, due to complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Featuring many previously unseen, stunning black and white and color photos taken in New York City and throughout his travels to Jamaica in the mid to late ’70s, the Rockers book chronicles Bafaloukos’ personal narrative as vividly and insightfully as it does the landmark film bearing its name.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on August 2, 2020 by Editor

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