Dir. Perry Henzell, 1972, Jamaica, Cert X, 103 mins
Few cult films have enjoyed the continued impact of Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come. Since it’s release it’s gained a following that is nothing less than legendary. It tipped off Americans to the existence of reggae and almost forty years later acts as a visual textbook for Reggae 101. Much more than a movie for neophyte reggae fans, it’s an ambiguous movie in the spirit of Cassevettes and Fuller and even Godard. Famous for it’s groovy soundtrack, The Harder They Come is certainly no musical. It’s an unvarnished snapshot of life in Jamaica.
Jimmy Cliff plays Ivan, a character inspired by a legendary 1950s Jamaican outlaw. Like many real-life Jamaican youths, Ivan decides that life on a farm is not for him and heads to the big city with dreams of making it as a reggae star. Once he arrives in the noisy chaos of Kingston, it’s clear that he’s a fish out of water. Within ten minutes of getting off the bus, he’s bamboozled, robbed, and left to fend for himself on the mean streets. Part neo-realist, part blaxploitation, part spaghetti western, viewers are usually unprepared for the dazzling and fearsome world Henzell plunges us into. Indeed, anyone expecting a breezy musical drama about a young singer making it big will be sent reeling at the gritty story that unfolds.
April 26, 2014
87 Deptford High Street
London SE8 4AA
Film chosen by the staff at Honey's.
Honey’s tasty Caribbean shop will serve up this classic alongside their finest treats like patties, rice and peas, jerk and oxtail stew and Guinness Punch.