How Ian Fleming’s Caribbean love story brought Bond back to the island
That’s the thing with Bond’s Jamaica – it’s a place where men like Blackwell and Fleming sit in estates like Goldeneye and Firefly, sipping cold rum and dreaming of Hollywood. As the late Anthony Bourdain observed in the Jamaican episode of Parts Unknown, in which Blackwell starred: “There are two Jamaicans. There’s Jamaica where most Jamaicans live, cook, struggle to survive – the real Jamaica … Then there’s the international jet set destination. It’s not difficult to determine where Fleming, Blackwell, and Bond fit into the Matrix.
Yet the Jamaican government has welcomed Bond 25 with open arms. “It really is something we have dreamed of and we are happy to make it a reality,” said Olivia Grange, the island’s Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture, behind the scenes.
“It was a big boost to the local economy,” says Thompson, of the production’s impact on Port Antonio. Local carpenters were employed on the set while the 500 actors and the film crew filled the bars, hotels and villas every night. A few months after filming, a fire burned down the local chicken store, and crew members sent money to help rebuild it.
“I was there [Port Antonio] last weekend and everyone was asking, “When’s the next movie coming up, miss?” “, she says. The film is released in Jamaica next week, the same day cinemas reopen for the first time since the last wave of Covid. “There’s a lot of excitement,” says Thompson.
According to Edmund Bartlett, the Minister of Tourism: “[Bond coming] back to us means that we are a place for the beginnings, but we are also a place for the big ends.
It’s easy to trace the source of his enthusiasm: tourism accounts for 20% of Jamaica’s GDP (double the proportion a decade ago) and it has been ravaged by the pandemic. According to the World Bank, its hotel sector contracted by 30% in 2020; Presumably, Bartlett is hoping that a Bond film can shake it up or bring it back to life.
As Portman says, “Unfortunately, Covid has delayed us a bit. She has the ambition to make Jamaica a premier filming destination, as well as a tourist destination. “Bond will open up to us as a place. Movies will find it easier and easier to come here. For Jamaica, if not for Daniel Craig’s Bond, No Time To Die is just the beginning.