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The Harder They Come (includes Soundtrack CD)

2 Ratings: 3.5
A movie directed by Perry Henzell

Director-producer Perry Henzel's all-Jamaican-made 1973 classic, one of the most beloved and longest-running of all international cult favorites, fiercely expresses the live-wire Jamaican spirit--an impoverished Africa tuned to American radio. The film … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Perry Henzell
1 review about The Harder They Come (includes Soundtrack...

A Triumph of Something or Other ...

  • Feb 3, 2009
Rating:
+5
... Most obviously, a triumph of ethnographic portrayal of a "third" world-view, and a cinematographic triumph of capturing Caribbean squalor as a form of visual beauty. Also a triumph of acting by reggae singer Jimmy Cliff in the role of Ivan, the simple country boy who comes to the city to "get his share of what's his." It's such a feat of natural acting that no one who doesn't know Cliff personally will ever be able to imagine him other than as Ivan.

When I first saw this film, in 1974 I think, I accepted it as a Triumph of Defiance. Defiance of a corruption of authority and society that seemed endemic. Ivan was not a Robin Hood; he didn't rob from the rich to give to the poor. He operated entirely on libertarian self-interest, though unfortunately he wasn't exceptionally clear about where his better interests lay. He was a martyr, and perhaps we were meant to understand that being a martyr in such a world was triumph enough. The 1970s were the decade of outlaw heroes in films -- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, and many more -- all of whom seemed to perish in a blaze of defiant glory.

Most of those '70s films now appear as dated and shallow as "our" hopes for a more enlightened world through LSD and cannabis. Not so with "The Harder They Come"! This was a great film then and it's still a film with power. My interpretation of the Triumph would be chastened by experience with the utter failure of the libertarian outlaw world-view to usher in any millennial joys, but that's the mark of great literature, that it can be re-understood. The Harder They Come is great literature.

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