Western films have often been white-washed and dictated by narratives following white historical figures like John Wayne. However, as history has long revealed, the Wild Wild West wasn’t just run by white lone-rangers and sharp shooters. Rather, several African-American cowboys and cowgirls, as well as few outlaws, existed, too.
Thanks to Jeymes Samuel’s epic western film The Harder They Fall, they finally made it onto the big screen. Furthermore, the Netflix film takes audiences on a whirl-wind ride, full of action and bloody gore, done in true western-film style. More than that, though, The Harder They Fall also educates viewers on the importance of Black history.
The Harder They Fall: Jeymes Samuel’s Newest Black Western Film
Having a few projects centered around black westerns under his belt, Jeymes Samuel pretty much knows what he’s doing. The music composer and film director produced the 2013 western film They Die By Dawn. Furthermore, the film featured big-name stars like Isisah Washington, Michael K. Williams and Erykah Badu. Clearly, Samuel loves old western movies.
The renowned music composer returned to the big screen (or little screen) this November with another western flick, The Harder The Fall. Moreover, the western epic follows the story of Nat Love and his gang out for revenge against Rufus Buck, the outlaw that killed his family as a child. Given the character names, its clear that Samuel sought to make a film that featured prominent historical black cowboys and cowgirls. In addition to Nat Love, the film also draws on other legendary westerners such as Stagecoach Mary, Cherokee Bill and Bass Reeves. During the opening credits, the film explains that “while many of the events are fictional . . . These. People. Existed.” The line not only sets the tone for the entire film, but also triumphs the white-washed “American Cowboy” myth. Black cowboys and cowgirls ran the Wild Wild West, too.
The Actors Who Brought To Life The Historical Black Cowboys & Cowgirls
The actors also helped bring to life these huge black figures. While the Netflix film starred Jonathan Majors and Idris Elba as the main characters, other A-list talents had a role as well. Delroy Lindo and LaKeith Stanfield, who played the roles of Bass Reeves and Cherokee Bill, did the historical figures justice.
Furthermore, the film highlighted strong black women from the Wild Wild West. Near the conclusion of the film, Regina King’s Trudy Smith and Zazie Beetz’s Statecoach Mary engaged in an intense fight scene. The scene will leave viewers hanging on to the edge of their seats. Even the moment Trudy Smith stands watching as Nat Love and his gang ride off into the Sunset in victory leaves fans wanting more. Given that intense cliffhanger, there’s bound to be a sequel coming out.
The Harder They Fall’s Ode To Black History
All in all, the film was nothing but Black Excellence at its best. Everything from the gun-firing, epic fight scenes, Regina King’s accent and the reggae-inspired soundtrack, made the film a masterpiece. Arguably, it’s one of the best Netflix films ever streamed on the platform. Though, the film is more than just a good action film, it’s about recognizing black history. Hopefully, we’ll see more from director Jeymes Samuel in the future as he caters and celebrates black culture.