Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Harder They Come (1973)


Reggae singer Jimmy Cliff plays Ivan, a poor Jamaican country boy who makes his way to big city Kingston where he initially struggles to overcome hunger and homelessness. Upon being sponsored by a preacher, who puts Ivan to work in his machine shop, the spit hits the fan when Ivan is caught sneaking off with the preacher’s daughter. It ends with Ivan taking lashes in prison after he gets into a fight with his foreman and slashes the man’s face repeatedly with a knife.

Back on the streets, Ivan’s big break comes with a chance to record his song “The Harder They Come” for none other than the leading studio in town. But Ivan finds the music business to be just as cut-throat and exploitative as the manual labor game. So Ivan takes to running marijuana and next thing we know, he’s madly in love with his new pistol. Chomping at the bit for a chance to use it, Ivan winds up gunning down four policemen sent to capture him. On the lamb, Ivan becomes a cult hero and his song subsequently sets the radio airwaves afire.

“You can get it if you really want, but you must try” comes in many forms for Ivan who gets the girl, the fame, and the excitement of life on the edge. But he also gets ratted on and ultimately falls to overwhelming police firepower. To Ivan, creating the legend of a rude boy is much more valuable than his own life. Going out in a blaze of glory is all he knows to do. And Jamaica, with its beautiful beaches and quirky sense of style, provides the perfect backdrop for this drama to unfold, like a good Western shot in a flawed figment of paradise.

No comments:

Post a Comment