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The Harder They Come

Perry Henzel

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.

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.

“Powered by one of the most infectious scores in the history of cinema, it is also a pop classic.” – J Hoberman, New York Times

“Too often dismissed as “that Jimmy Cliff film,” it might be overlooked that this 1972 slum-gangster flick cum star-vehicle was the first feature to be made in Jamaica by Jamaicans, and is a heck of a smart story… Though not particularly well received upon its release, THE HARDER THEY COME has aged well, and remains a benchmark in post-colonial cinema.” Cine-File

“What immediately grabs me about this rough jewel, apart from jimmy Cliff’s powerhouse songs, is the elusive and elliptical editing of the narrative away from and into stray details, the grainy color that gives a downhome rat’s-eye view of what slickness looks like to powerless people, and the raw, melodious beauty of the non-actorly voices, which evokes some of the warm vocal sounds in Renoir’s TONI.”

“The Harder They Come is always exuberant, and sometimes strong, as casually surprising and effortlessly sinister as the blade sliding out of a gravity knife.” – TIME


  • 2/22 | 9:30PM
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