The cult classic Jamaican film ‘The Harder They Come’ and its legacy
Writer Chris Salewicz explores the legacy of the film The Harder They Come. He meets the film’s stars and those who have been touched by this classic of modern cinema and its soundtrack. Jimmy Cliff, who stars as Ivanhoe Martin, talks about his role. Chappy St Juste, cameraman on the film recalls shooting some memorable scenes, Sally Henzell, widow of director Perry Henzell talks about the film’s premiere at Kingston’s Carib cinema where 40,000 people tried to get in to this 1500 seater cinema. Carl Bradshaw, who plays Jose, gives us a tour of the film's locations, author Matthew Parker gives a view of Jamaica’s history as a violent slave outpost “bathed in blood” and Dancehall singer Ninjaman talks about his love of the film. Academic Dr Matthew Smith and Janet Street-Porter talk about the soundtrack’s cultural legacy and its role in bringing reggae to the wider world.
Back in Britain, Chris examines the legacy of Jamaica’s music and culture on today’s youth in the form of reggae’s cultural descendant: Bass Culture, which to many eyes glorifies the ‘Badman’ archetype portrayed in The Harder They Come. Grime MC Flowdan, reggae singer Tappa Zukie and black music historian Mykaell Riley all contribute.
(Photo: Jimmy Cliff performs at the BBC in August 1970)