You Can Get It If You Really Want: Behind the Scenes of "The Harder They Come"

You Can Get It If You Really Want: Behind the Scenes of "The Harder They Come"

Examining the legacy of the most important reggae movie ever made with the people who made it.

Written by Reshma B (@ReshmaB_RGAT)

If you can chat about something 40 years on, it's probably something worth chatting about.

The Harder They Come was the film that introduced the world to Jamaican culture, that gave reggae music global recognition and shed some light on the Rastafari movement.

Today, September 5th, marks the 40th anniversary of the official U.S. release of the Jamaican cult classic. As a celebration of the film’s legacy, Synocto Pictures is screening it in theatres across the U.S. in a fully restored and re-mastered version. For those who have only seen this indie masterpiece on DVD, today is a rare chance to see the music and culture of 1970s Jamaica on the big screen.

Complex got a chance to speak with the star of the movie Jimmy Cliff, a reggae legend who played the lead character, aspiring reggae singer-songwriter Ivan Martin, who turns to life as an outlaw after being swindled by an unscrupulous record producer. We also spoke with Justine Henzell, daughter of the director Perry Henzell, and the chief custodian of her late father’s legacy; Michael Ochs, the film’s original publicist; and reggae historian Roger Steffens, who will be hosting tonight’s screening at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. Steffens still recalls (hazily) the first screening he ever attended at University of California, Berkeley: "When the chalice scene came on you couldn't even see the screen from all the smoke.” You may not be able to light up a fat spliff in the theatres today, but you sure can get up on the buzz.

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Tags: the-harder-they-come, jimmy-cliff, perry-henzell, roger-steffens, michael-ochs, reggae, justine-henzell
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