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"You can get it if you really want!" Discussing Perry Henzell's film 'The Harder They Come'.

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"You can get it if you really want!" Perry Henzell's film 'The Harder They Come' is an excellent resource for those students studying other cultures since this is a film that portrays how the cultures of many countries have been destroyed by the 'western onslaught', as the writer of 'The Bone Setter' puts it. The young Ivan Martin (Jimmy Cliff) enters Kingston with dreams of fame and fortune. He believes that he "can get it if he really wants". He dreams of the kind of fame a pop star might expect in these days. His mother, whom he visits right at the beginning of his life in Kingston, tries to warn him of the difficulties ahead, but his confidence in his obvious talent to sing overrides her warning. However, as he tries to get a job, he is constantly disappointed. ...read more.


The only job Ivan is able to get is in the drug trade, which ironically enough is controlled by the police of Kingston. However, even this is really controlled by Westerners, as the plane that Ivan gives the 'product' to is later found to have been heading for America, along with two others. As in the record companies, the Jamaican workers only earn a paltry amount, while Ivan learns of the huge amounts earned in Miami by reading a newspaper article on the capture of the plane. Ivan is then betrayed by his boss for trying to earn more money, and the result is Ivan shooting a police officer. Ivan is attacked by more police, so he kills them and goes 'on the run'. ...read more.


Ivan believes that "the hero can't die until the last reel", but this only comes from the Western films of cowboys (which is shown in the film as flashbacks to Ivan watching in the Rialto). It's as if the Western culture has 'brainwashed' natives with its influence over the native culture, and Ivan is promptly shot dead, symbolising that any resistance to the 'Western onslaught' is crushed in the end. Ironically, the song, 'You can get it if you really want," is played in the last few seconds of the film. Ivan wanted fame and wealth, but his dreams were crushed by the influence of Western civilisation, and he ended up with nothing, so, clearly, you can't "get it if you really want." This is a great film, nonetheless, and will certainly help all you Lower Fifth formers out there to get excellent grades - if you really want! Alex Lines ...read more.

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