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Early Jamaican Cinema

Before the movies
The first steps

Before the movies

What Jamaicans had seen from the 18th century.



Magic Lanterns


The earliest references to a magic lantern in Jamaica that I have found so far are in the Diary of Thomas Thistlewood. According to Professor Douglas Hall’s survey of the Diary, In Miserable Slavery, Thistlewood received his ‘Magic Lanthorn’ in January 1764; there appears to be no reference to any slides arriving at the same time, but these must have existed for him to be able to put on his ‘Magic Lanthorn’ show. He mentions this show on several occasions, and clearly he must often have put it on for visitors.


The next reference that I have found is in the Appendix to Philip Wright's edition of Lady Nugent’s Journal, in which it is recorded that the Governor, General Nugent, paid 12 to John Munds for a Magic Lantern with slides, on September 13, 1804. There does not seem to be any reference to a magic lantern show being put on for the Governor’s family and guests.

Lady Nugent’s Journal


p 284 (some King’s House bills)


General Nugent, Bout  of John Munds

1804 Sept 13th     a Magic Lantern with Slides            12

These two references at least show that magic lanterns were known in Jamaica from the 18th century; unfortunately there is so far no indication as to how widespread their use was at that period.

Probably the most extraordinary and significant transparency created in Jamaica was that displayed in Montego Bay on August 1, 1838, at the end of Apprenticeship.

Early methods

Magic lanterns and dissolving views

Greater sophistication

How things progressed in the 19th century.

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the worthy frog
Joy Lumsden 2004

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