Directed by Perry Henzell | Jamaica | 1972 | Color | 109 minutes | R
With a piece in his hand, he takes on the man! The epochal cultural moment that first brought reggae to the international stage made Jimmy Cliff a star — and demonstrated how music can change the world.
Fifty years on, The Harder They Come is still electric with the feeling of discovery. This Scarface-y blend of crime drama and musical tracks Cliff’s country-boy-in-search-of-fame through Jamaica under the guises of laborer, recording artist, convict, ganja dealer, and outlaw folk hero.
Ivanhoe “Ivan” Martin (influential reggae musician Jimmy Cliff) is a poor Jamaican man who dreams of being a successful reggae singer. Following his dream, he travels to Kingston where he finds work running errands for a local record producer. leads him from his rural home, to the capitol city of Kingston. When the producer records Ivan’s song, “The Harder They Fall,” Ivan sees this as his ticket to fame. However, the record producer exploits Ivan, wanting him to sell his song rights. Desperate, Ivan turns to dealing marijuana. His life spiral out of control when he gets into a shootout and becomes a notorious criminal. It’s only a matter of time until his reputation catches up with him.
Before The Harder They Come, the collective perception of a “foreign film” was limited to the Bergmans and the Kurosawas of the world. This game-changer forever blew those doors off — and it still hasn’t lost a drop of its cool, its edge, or its way of making you dance.
“Perry’s Henzell’s 1972 rugged reggae crime story—loosely based on a ’40s-era Jamaican folk hero/criminal—plays like a musically-inspired docudrama of the raw social reality of the impoverished island nation in the ’70s.” — Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com
“A hard-hitting social drama with revolutionary political overtones, but it is immensely enjoyable and, at times, light-hearted.” — James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk
“A Jamaican classic with an awesome OST [original sound track]” —Empire Magazine