The Harder They Come (1972) Perry Henzell

The Harder They Come (1972)

Genre: Blaxploitation
Director: Perry Henzell
Country: Jamaica
Language: English
Subtitles: English (idx/sub files)
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 1.66:1
Length: 103mn
File: Dvdrip Mkv - 800x480 - 1.49gb

Ivanhoe Martin comes to the city to make it big singing Reggae. However, he finds life in the city to be harder than he thought, and is taken advantage of by both the record producer and the marijuana boss he later starts dealing for. When he kills a police officer, events start escalating that make him the Jamaica's most wanted man, and a momentary hero to all the oppressed Jamaicans. This is based on a true story.

The original reggae film. Although made on a low budget, with musicians rather than actors, the film holds up surprisingly well over time, much in the same manner as the Jimmy Cagney film, Public Enemy. The story is an updated re-narration of the life of Jamaica's most notorious outlaw. But it is given considerable depth and energy by getting tied in with the history of the Jamaican music business (which really treated artists badly back when this was made), and with the subtle inclusion of general cultural and political commentary (Ivan, the outlaw, is persuaded to a life of violence in part because he takes spaghetti Westerns seriously; when he realizes his situation in Jamaica is hopeless, he begins dreaming of escaping to freedom in Cuba - what a hope!). Along the way, we meet the actual musicians, Rastafarians, gospel-church bible thumpers, scuzzy record producers, and marijuana sellers that not only Ivan, but the actor playing him - Jimmy Cliff - had to deal with during the desperate struggle to survive in an island state that was ranked the most impoverished in the Caribbean. How they managed to get these people to play themselves for the movie - especially since many of them are not portrayed in a very positive manner - remains one of the great mysteries of this now legendary film. In fact, it was a miracle it was ever made at all.

The film is an absolute must for those who want to understand where reggae came from and how it developed; but it also has a lot to say on the problems of surviving in poverty. Finally, there is enough humor, as many familiar characters as we need, and better than adequate editing, all coming together to keep our attention held. Besides, this is one of the most famous soundtracks in film history. A real diamond in the rough.


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