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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 December 2021
Film review: The Harder They Fall
A unique Western about black cowboys
The Harder They Fall Photo: Netflix (Click to enlarge)
Ian Pattison, North London Socialist Party
'The Harder They Fall' is a new Western on Netflix. The movie sets are stylised and the gunfights are majestically choreographed. But the film also stands out for its all-black cast, something that is almost entirely unique for a cowboy film.
The film, roughly set in the late 19th century, is actually closer to the reality. A quarter of cowboys were black. The filmmakers were motivated to make the audience aware of the history of black people in the 'Wild West'.
The majority of the plot is an engaging story of revenge between rival gangs. But politics does come up.
The question is left hanging whether the terrible things the characters do are justified. Is it the only realistic means of survival for black people in the racist landscape?
There were hundreds of all-black towns in the US in this time period. Even the film's most loathsome characters mobilise support for themselves by offering to defend these municipalities.
The range-cattle industry was as close to equality as black people got in this era. On the surface, wages were equal, although black cowboys were expected to work longer, harder, do more demeaning jobs and were rarely promoted.
Black and white cowboys would share sleeping quarters and even blankets. But the travelling black workers would be banned from restaurants.
The Harder They Fall doesn't portray any of the solidarity that black and white cowboys would've inevitably shared. But it does open the viewer to a world Hollywood has hidden.
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In The Socialist 8 December 2021:
Unite to fight for pay and NHS we deserve
Government social care plans: Where is the money?
Uni staff and students must unite to end marketisation and for free education
Covid news in brief
What we think
Workers' politics needed to exploit Tory scandal and splits
Building People's Budgets: An alternative to Tory and Labour cuts
Chile presidential election - stop the far-right candidate
Unprecedented floods in British Columbia
Wider working-class and union struggle needed to win St Vincent nurses' strike
Defending abortion rights in the US
Universities strike - build the action and stand united to win
Thousands of Tesco warehouse workers to strike
Sandwell bin workers beat Serco and win pay rise
Panasonic workers break company pay freeze
Clarks strikers defeat 'fire and rehire'
Organise to win the NEU's 8% pay demand
Yorkshire Stagecoach bus workers' week-long strike
Worksop Wincanton logistics workers on strike
Newham Sixth Form College begins strike against academisation
Sheffield Just East couriers picket and march for pay rise
Napo ballots for trade dispute
Affordable housing for all
Challenge cutters and evictors in Waltham Forest Council
Remembering Tony Davison
Fighting Fund: Help us reach over £50,000
Defying unjust laws - a rich history of struggle
Mail attacks tube strikers by stealing socialist's image
Film review: The Harder They Fall
The Socialist 8 December 2021 |
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