Movies about black history
The Harder They Come, a film directed by Perry Henzell, portrays life’s injustices suffered by the blacks as they struggle to attain success. The film begins with the scene of an old bus moving into the city, depicting the changes one has to undergo to achieve the set goals. However, Ivanhoe Martin, the main character in the movie, loses all his belongings when he asks for directions from a thief masquerading as a hawker (Peary 131). He reaches his mother’s place and delivers the news about his grandmother passing on. His mother tells him to go back to the countryside since she cannot help him, but he is determined to stay in the city. Consequently, he is forced to live in the streets while looking for a job. He suffers for a while, but a pastor employs him. He meets Elsa, who becomes his wife. She supports him and he records a hit song. However, the song does not bring enough money for them as they meet a greedy producer. Ivanhoe unwittingly trades marijuana that successively leads to crime. The Harder They Come is a movie produced in Jamaica illustrating the challenges faced by youths in the country when pursuing the ways to have a better life.
On the other hand, Harold and Maude is a compelling drama directed by Hal Ashby and released in 1971 to tell a story about freedom (Peary 134). Harold, one of the main characters in the film, has an odd personality that his mum finds weird. He recreates suicide attempts scenes and drives a hearse for amusement, which scares his mother (Havis 63). She does everything possible to change his character by making him see a therapist, join the army, and get a girlfriend, but none of the attempts prove effective (Peary 134). Instead, he meets Maude, a widow who understands him since they share similar personality traits. Together, they attended funerals of strangers, had dinner, sang, and rode in the same car for several times (Peary 134). One act accompanied by another led to the young lad wanting to marry the old lady. However, she took poison on their wedding night because she wanted to die on her 80th birthday. Maude death devastates Harold as is shown by the fact that he drove his car down a cliff at the end of the movie. The story of the two shows that the members of the society should not be judged on how they choose to lead their lives; rather, they should be accorded with political, spiritual, and many more freedoms.
The characters in both movies enhance the respective stories. The pastors in The Harder They Come film brought the role of the main protagonist into life; they were organized, clean, and lively as religious leaders. Similarly, all the characters in Harold and Maude played their roles effectively; for example, Harold’s mother had all the attributes of a caring mum. Despite being a single mother, she takes care of Harold, never gives up on him, and funds their lavish life. The characters in both films have complex personalities, thus moving away from their stereotypical notions of the society as shown by Ivanhoe, Hilton, and Elsa in the first film and by Harold and Maude in the latter.
Both movies have a smooth direction. The directors narrate their stories in chronological sequences without confusing the viewers. Henzell and Ashby use one hundred and twenty and ninety-one minutes respectively to tell the stories of several years of the main characters’ lives (Peary 134). Moreover, the speed and pace of the movies are moderate for the viewers’ understanding. The fact that No Place Like Home, also directed by Henzell, was received overwhelmingly shows the ability of the director to create movies with easily comprehended directions. On the other hand, Hal Ashby was also nominated for the best director because of the Coming Home movie released in 1978. Predominantly, both films have a straightforward plot that can be understood by all viewers easily.
The Harder They Come and Harold and Maude films demonstrated pacesetterfeatures. The music used in both stories supports the scenes’ moods: they are not subtle or distracting. Instead, the choice of words in the songs emphasizes the intended themes by repeating the scripts messages. For example, as Ivanhoe struggles to settle in the city in Henzell’s movie, Jinny Cliff’s song “Many Rivers To Cross” plays in the background. The music brings to the lives of Harold and Maude the fact that nothing good comes easy; therefore, an individual should be ready to go through all the odds to achieve.
The cinematography of both movies is unique: The Harder They Come shots portray a life lead by the poor blacks, while Harold and Maude is set in a vibrant neighborhood for the whites. Accordingly, coloring and tone support and enhance the culture and traditions depicted in both films. In the first one, the world is informed of the Rastafarian culture and its susceptibility to marijuana effects (Peary 133). On the other hand, Harold and Maude shows how rich kids lead carefree lives since they had fewer responsibilities. The absence and presence of a mother in the lives of the main characters in the films paints a different perspective of each culture. Every scene was coherently shot; for example, the inception of the relationship between Ivanhoe and Elsa is backed by a bicycle ride across the ocean. The camera moved with them from one location to another, creating a perfect framing.
The production style of the movies is believable and easily associated with the respective cultures. The ghetto life settings in The Harder They Come are accompanied by cheap costumes enhancing the messages being relayed by the directors. Contrariwise, the characters in the latter film dress in expensive clothes to enhance the affluent neighborhood setting. Every scene in both movies is perfectly balanced; the created environments bring life to the stories, for example, the preacher’s workshop and the church scenes in the first movie and the diverse funerals in Ashby’s film. The atmosphere of each act can be felt by the viewers as they follow through the story.
The editing is clean since there is a consistent flow in both stories. The transition from one scene to another is smooth from the beginning to the end, for example, the viewer travels with Ivanhoe from the countryside to the city as depicted by the progressive changes in each scene. Similarly, the audience flows with Harold and Maude from one point to another during the rough driving scenes, for example, when they were chased by a policeman on a motorbike as they wanted to plant the stolen tree (Havis 62). The scenes complement each other, thus communicating the intended messages in a steady pace.
The pacing of both films was moderate: the directors of the movies used adequate time to communicate their intended messages without prolonging or dragging the scenes. The films are well-organized and present a perfect flow of the stories since the watchers are taken through the main characters life stages. For example, within one hundred and twenty minutes, Ivanhoe transforms from a beggar to an employee, and eventually into a criminal. Similarly, Harold grows from being a little boy to marrying Maude in 91 minutes. Nonetheless, some concepts in The Harder They Come were rushed. For instance, Ivanhoe suddenly had a grown daughter without any prior dialogue on starting a family.
The dialogues in both films are believable and necessary in each scene. They enhance the understanding of the stories by complementing the moods and tones of each scene. In fact, the directors did an excellent job in matching the dialogues with the characters' personalities. For example, Elsa has an agreeable personality trait supported with spiritual life; thus, Ashby ensured that she only uttered kind and helpful words in most scenes. On the other hand, Harold and Maude reveal openness personalities as shown by their dialogues; they always had an idea of how to spend their time without restrictions.
The impact of the two movies was both global and local. In the first instance, Jamaica was a famous shoot location, but no movie has been produced before to show the harsh realities of the day-to-day struggles of the youths in the nation. However, everything changed when The Harder They Come, the first Jamaican film, was produced by a local director to target the country’s citizens. Jimmy Cliff, who plays the main character role as Ivanhoe, shows the world the tough troubles that Jamaicans have to surpass to be successful. A case in point are the corrupt music producers who only think about creating more personal gains instead of granting the musicians fair contracts (Peary 131). Despite Ivanhoe’s reggae song being a hit, he is only paid twenty dollars by the producer for the song’s ownership rights. The reggae music industry in Jamaica owes its success to the movie producers because it paved the way for other legendary musicians like Bob Marley. It is evident from the film that corruption is killing the society: all the government and private institutions have accepted and embraced bribes as a way of trading. For example, Jamaica’s police forces have allowed drug cartels to operate in Jamaica at a fee. Such illegal activities show that the will of the people is suppressed by those in power positions (Peary 133). On the other hand, Harold and Maude dwelves in the human population’s ability to embrace the spiritual and concrete realms of freedom. The producers use humor to convince the viewers to lead the lives they want because everyone will die at some point. Therefore, people should not use their time on earth worrying about how the society will judge them; instead, they should embrace every moment like it is their last.
In conclusion, The Harder They Come and Harold and Maude plots are concise because the producers strictly adhered to film production styles. Both movies have a smooth flow direction enhanced by the chronological narration of stories. Moreover, their contributions to the film production industry are rated among the best, which is completed by the characters of every scene in the movies. The cinematography of both movies is uniquely crafted to fit into the production style, thus creating believable themes. In fact, editing of each movie was balanced because the transitions between the scenes were consistent with the pace of the movies. Lastly, the dialogues were necessary and straightforward, which brought life to the plots of each film. Though the movies received mixed reactions from the viewers upon release, but they are considered among the best cult films ever produced in the industry.
Havis, Allan. Cult Films: Taboo and Transgression. University Press of America, 2008.
Peary, Danny. Cult Movies: The Classics, the Sleepers, the Weird, and the Wonderful. Gramercy Books, 1981.
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