THE HARDER THEY COME is a 1972 Jamaican crime film directed by Perry
Henzell and co-written by Trevor D. Rhone, and starring
Enormously successful in Jamaica, the film also reached the international market and has been described as "possibly the most influential of Jamaican films and one of the most important films from the Caribbean".
* 1 Plot * 2 Cast * 3 Production
* 4 Release
* 4.1 Critical reception
* 5 Legacy
* 5.1 Novelization * 5.2 Digital restoration * 5.3 Stage play
* 6 Remake * 7 Uses in other media * 8 References * 9 External links
Ivanhoe "Ivan" Martin is a poor Jamaican man in search of a job. He leaves his rural home, after his grandmother dies, to live with his impoverished mother in Kingston . He meets Jose, who takes him to see Django , a Spaghetti Western . Excited by urban life, he tries to get work but fails. He finally gets a job after taking a broken bicycle frame and rebuilding it into a working bicycle, and uses it to run errands for a record producer. When the frame's legal owner insists that it is still "his" bicycle, the two fight, and Ivan slashes him with a knife for which crime he is sentenced to a whipping.
After this Ivan interests the record producer in a song he writes and
The Harder They Come
Next, Ivan meets a woman in a hotel. While he is in bed with her, the police surround the room and try to capture him. He shoots his way out, killing three officers. On the run, he returns to shoot and wound the girl he slept with, believing she and Jose betrayed him. He then finds Jose and pursues him, shooting at him, but Jose escapes.
Ivan returns to the countryside, but the police catch up with him, leading to another shootout and escape. Ivan seeks support from his drug-dealer friends, who help him hide out. The policeman leading the search cracks down on the drug trade, telling the dealers he will not relax the pressure until they give Ivan up. Meanwhile, the record producer re-releases Ivan's song, which rapidly becomes a hit because of Ivan's notoriety. Enamoured of his new fame, Ivan has photographs of himself made holding two guns in gangster poses, and he sends them to the press. He also steals a flashy car and drives it around a golf course.
One dealer friend advises Ivan to escape to Cuba. Seeing the ship he hoped to escape on leaving, Ivan swims out towards the speeding vessel. However, he cannot grab onto the ladder dangling off the side, and he opens his eyes to find himself beached ashore.
Ivan sleeps in the shade of a tree then awakens, alerted to the presence of policemen with rifles. He exchanges shots with the police while imagining himself being watched by an excited, applauding audience, just like the one he had watched Django with. Out of bullets, he comes out and challenges the police to draw . The police shoot him many times, and he drops. The film ends abruptly, cutting to a shot of a woman's torso gyrating to the sound of Ivan's song over the credits.
The film stars reggae singer Jimmy Cliff, who plays Ivanhoe Martin , a character based upon a real-life Jamaican criminal of that name, better known as Rhyging , who achieved fame in the 1940s. Prior to filming, the project had a working title of Rhygin. This then changed to Hard Road to Travel before finally being changed to The Harder They Come, prompting Cliff to write the song of the same name. The story very loosely follows the real Martin/Rhyging's life updated to the 1970s, though the historical Rhyging was not a musician or drug dealer.
Cliff's previous acting experience had come from school productions. Other major roles in the film were played by Janet Bartley (Elsa), Basil Keane (Preacher), Ras Daniel Hartman (Pedro), Beverly Anderson, who eventually married Michael Manley who became the Prime Minister of Jamaica (Upper St. Andrew Housewife), Bob Charlton (Hilton), Jamaican actor Volair Johnson (Pushcart Boy), and well known Jamaican comedians Bim and Bam : Ed "Bim" Lewis (Photographer), and Aston "Bam" Wynter (drunken husband).
The film was a sensation in Jamaica due to its naturalistic portrayal of black Jamaicans in real locations and its use of local Patois ( Jamaican Creole ). According to Henzell, "Black people seeing themselves on the screen for the first time created an unbelievable audience reaction".
The film was released in February 1973 in New York City by Roger Corman 's New World Pictures to little attention. It became more popular when it was played to midnight audiences nationwide the following April. However, the popularity of the movie was limited outside of Jamaica because the local Patois spoken by the characters was so thick that it required subtitles, making it possibly "the first English language movie in history to require subtitles in the United States".
The soundtrack to the film is considered a breakthrough for reggae in the United States.
The film received positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator
In 1980, Jamaican-American author Michael Thelwell published a novel based on the film, using the same title. It has been noted that Thelwell inserted many Jamaican proverbs into the novel that were unused in the film.
In 2006, Prassad Corporation digitally restored the film, frame by frame, to remove dirt, tears, scratches, and other artifacts and recapture its original look. Prasad cleaned 14,000 frames.
The Harder They Come
Plans are afoot for a remake , with a screenplay written by Chris Salewicz. The remake is a joint venture between Henzell's daughter Justine, Xingu Films, and Conquering Lion Pictures. Filming is due to begin in 2013. In March 2015, it was announced that Cliff would reprise his role as Ivanhoe Martin.
USES IN OTHER MEDIA
* The Chase ">
* ^ "THE HARDER THEY COME (X)". British Board of Film
Classification . 4 April 1977. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
* ^ Kenner, Rob (2009) "Trevor Rhone, a Writer of ‘The Harder
They Come,’ Dies at 69",
The New York Times
* ^ A B Campbell, Howard (2011) "\'Harder They Come\'