The Harder They Come (Umbrella Ent) (1972) (NTSC)
Featurette-One and All: The Phenonmenon of The Harder They Come
Featurette-Making Of-A Hard Road to Travel: The Making of The Harder They Come
Interviews-Cast-Interview with Jimmy Cliff
Interviews-Crew-Interview with Director Perry Henzell
Interviews-Crew-Interview with Arthur Gorson
Gallery-Slide Show: The Wild Side of Paradise
Music Video-"The Harder They Come" Music Video
Theatrical Trailer-"No Place Like Home" Trailer
Trailer-Umbrella Trailer for "Osibisa" by Don Coutts
|Year Of Production||1972|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Perry Henzell|
Ras Daniel Hartman
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English||Smoking||Yes, Occasional drug use|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Harder They Come was the first major motion picture from and about Jamaica. It was a critical and cultural hit in Jamaica at the time of it's release. It was the first film to depict the economic struggles of common Jamaicans and also the first film to show a Jamaica other than glorious hotels and beaches as other major Hollywood studios at the time did. The film stars reggae musician Jimmy Cliff as Ivanhoe Martin, a young man from the countryside who decides to go to the big city and cut a record and, of course, become famous. What he doesn't bargain on is the exploitation he encounters in the music industry. On realising that cutting records is not going to give him the economic freedom he wants, he turns to dealing marijuana only to find out that this industry is also highly organised. This forces Ivanhoe to become an outlaw, taking on the system, even if the consequences of doing so means that there's no turning back.
Director Perry Henzell co-wrote the film with Trevor Rhone, and also produced the film with his brother-in-law and Pat Rousseau, a prominent lawyer at the time who later on became President of the West Indies Cricket Board. The independent means by which Henzell had to secure financing for the film meant that it took him six years to pay off his investors. This sadly derailed his career as he was unable to get the financial backing to capitialise on the social themes presented in The Harder They Come. He planned to make a trilogy of films on the subject of cultural life in Jamaica and the conflict between the city lifestyle, country lifestyle and the modern impact of globalisation. The Harder They Come represented the City lifestyle of Jamaica from the point of view of a young man from the country, the follow-up to The Harder They Come, No Place Like Home was to show the country lifestyle of Jamaica from the point-of-view of a woman from the big city. No Place Like Home was finally finished in 2006, but it is The Harder They Come that remains the film that Perry Henzell is famous for, and it has become a worldwide cult hit.
The reason why the film has become a cult hit goes beyond the subject matter. The soundtrack to the film exposed reggae music as a legitimate influence upon western music. Jimmy Cliff provided 4 original songs to the soundtrack, The Harder They Come, Many Rivers to Cross, You Can Get It If You Really Want and Sitting Here in Limbo. The album helped establish Island Records in the 1970s and the career of Bob Marley, influenced Paul Simon to record Mother and Child Reunion in Jamaica and was ranked number 119 in Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time as well as featuring in Time Magazine's greatest albums.
The Harder They Come, being an independent feature, struggled to make an impact in Europe and America at the time it was released. Eventually, thanks to critical support at the Venice Film Festival and thanks to Roger Corman in the USA, the film was eventually shown in 43 countries and became the iconic film that it is today.
The Harder They Come underwent a film restoration in 2006. This was handled jointly by Xenon Pictures and Westwind Media. Although the restoration does not match the restoration work of Warner Bros on Casablanca and Citizen Kane, or the work of James Katz and Robert Harris on classic films such as Rear Window, Vertigo, Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus and My Fair Lady, this version of The Harder They Come is the best transfer that the film has received onto DVD so far. The Region 4 Umbrella Entertainment release utilises this restored transfer, as well as maintaining the NTSC format, rather than converting it to PAL for the Australian market.
The aspect ratio of the film is 1:85:1. This conflicts with all DVD releases of the film that use a 1:66:1 aspect ratio. I believe the original aspect ratio of the film is indeed 1:85:1, as The Harder They Come was filmed in Super16mm format, a process that when developed into 35mm film keeps the original image intact without cropping. Thus, in my opinion, other DVD releases of The Harder They Come use a cropped transfer. Unfortunately, Xenon Pictures did not restore the film anamorphically, in other words it is not 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions and minor artefacts remain on this release.
The movie was shot using Super16mm film. This means that the transfer has a slight grain look throughout.
The restoration has highlighted the colours in the film. It is now much brighter than previous releases.
Minor film artefacts are present on the transfer at 3:00, 3:19, 5:42, 6:54, 10:41, 10:55, 13:04, 16:08, 18:37, 20:28, 22:14, 28:35, 32:33, 40:41, 41:09, 44:18, 44:49, 45:23, 46:13, 62:03, 62:31, 64:50, 66:40, 69:09, 70:22, 77:39, 78:52, 80:39, 83:39, 84:48, 95:00, 96:44 and 96:50. Black lines appear briefly at 4:59, 9:56, 80:15, 81:48 and 82:24. As mentioned previously, the transfer does not represent the definitive version of the film, but it is the best transfer available.
Subtitles are in Occasional English. This means that dialogue is subtitled to compensate for thick, Jamaican accents. For this reason I suggest that one should watch the film for the first time with subtitles on. Overall the subtitling is fine except at 90:34 when the word quay is spelt "cay".
There is no RSDL change as the film is presented on the first layer of the DVD, with the extras taking up the second layer.
The audio soundtracks have also been restored in this transfer. There are 3 soundtracks on the film, original mono, a stereo soundtrack and a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Most cineastes insist that films should only be presented with their original audio transfer, and prior to the advent of Dolby Stereo in 1977 (remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Star Wars?), films were released in mono, with the exception of epic films filmed in 70mm such as Ben-Hur or Lawrence of Arabia. However, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track on this transfer supports the film's mood and feel, and in this case I would advocate that there is justification in including the original mono track and a 'bumped-up' 5.1 track for the Region 4 release.
The 3 audio tracks differ in that the mono track has dialogue in the foreground, the Dolby Digital 2.0 track utilises stereo effects while the Dolby Digital 5.1 track transfers the stereo effects to the back speakers with the Subwoofer been used to emphasise the bass sound in the music soundtrack.
Dialogue is clear throughout, although Jamaican accents can be difficult to decipher from time-to-time.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack brings out Jimmy Cliff's songs in the movie, in my opinion it is the track of choice when watching the film.
Surround channel usage is mainly limited to the front speakers, but, as mentioned previously, the 5.1 track does transfer stereo effects to the back speakers.
The Subwoofer is used to emphasis the bass sound on the music soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
Like the main presentation, all the special features on this DVD are presented in a non 16x9 enhanced format.
The Harder They Come has been released in Region 1 (USA) and Region 2(United Kingdom). The Region 1 release by the Criterion Collection contains an audio commentary by Perry Henzell and Jimmy Cliff and an interview by Island Records founder, Chris Blackwell. The Region 2 release by BMG Entertainment includes the same transfer as the Criterion version with the same documentary by Chris Browne as on the Region 4 release, which can be viewed interactively during the main feature. Both these releases feature a mono soundtrack.
The Criterion version is now out of print due to licensing undertaken during the restoration process in 2003. In 2006 Xenon Pictures released an identical release to the Region 4 release, as did Revolver Entertainment in 2007 in region 2 in the United Kingdom. These aforementioned restored releases included the soundtrack CD as a second disc, unless Region 4 fans really want the CD soundtrack, I suggest settling for the Region 4 release as the version of choice for The Harder They Come. Note that none of these releases use a 16x9 enhanced transfer.
The Harder They Come is a film that blends the independent realist style of John Cassavetes, the spaghetti western style of Sergio Corbucci, (his film Django is referenced in the movie) and the French new wave style of Jean-Luc Godard. (This is evident at the end of the film with jump cuts in the middle of scenes to live audience reaction in a cinema, or other similar jump cut reaction shots in the film) As a result of this blend of styles, Perry Henzell has made a unique film that stands today as a cultural icon of its era. The musical soundtrack of the film also supports its iconic status. The Region 4 Umbrella release, with its extensive extras, represents the best version of the film released on DVD so far, only a 16x9 enhanced transfer could top it. The Region 4 release of The Harder They Come is highly recommended for Region 4 fans and World Cinema enthusiasts.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S550, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Sony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||Sony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)|