The Harder They Come (Jamaica, 1972)

Directed by: Perry Henzell. I can’t say that I know anything about the cultural context that this film was made in. I know next to nothing about Jamaican film culture, seeing that this is the first Jamaican film I’ve ever seen. But judging by the year—1972—it seems like Jamaica was like every other place that liked film, and they seem to have paid attention to French New Wave and all of its influence upon the rest of cinema: disjointed narrative techniques rather than smooth transitions and easy narrative flow,¬†protagonists living outside of the law and facing up to the unmoving harshness of authority structures, etc. This movie’s got it all, plus an awesome reggae soundtrack to go along (which is more than Breathless can say). I’d be lying if I said that I was riveted to every scene, but if you watch this with the right goggles, and a healthy dose of cultural relativism, then you can really see the universal story underneath all of the undecipherable slang and leaps in causality. There really is something about Jimmy Cliff in this movie—Ivan—that makes for an unforgettable, timeless protagonist, despite the odds. I’ll be rewatching this one in a few years, I think.

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One response to “The Harder They Come (Jamaica, 1972)

  1. Pingback: Quadrophenia (UK, 1979) | Offhand Reviews·

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