From John Wayne walk foot to foot towards The mark ofhe factory of Clint Eastwood , the western has been a cultural touchstone of the United States, embodying the spirit, struggle and moral dilemma of the new frontier.
For the first director Jeymes Samuel, whose new western The Harder They Fall will be premiered at the BFI London Film Festival Wednesday night this was as artistic and societal as w as physical.
"I have grew up watching westerns on the BBC. But the scope through which they showed us these stories was very narrow, ”Samuel said ahead of the film's gala. "They didn't really leave a path either way for another interpretation. Women have always been submissive. If you were a person of color, you were.ez less than human. "
Born in London, Samuel, known for his work as a songwriter and music producer under his name scene the Bullitts , assembled an all-black main cast including data Jonathan Majors , Regina King and Idris Elba . The music was written by Jay-Z , with whom Samuel had previously worked on The Great Gatsby movie and a Jay Electronica album.
The Harder They Fall centers on Nat Love (Majors), an African-American cowboy and former slave from the post-American Civil War period, who reunites his gang to take revenge on Rufus Buck (Elbe ) - the man who murdered his parents.
"There is a unique character to a man from London, from Harrow Road, who is making a western "Elba said. " I grew up watching westerns. Having this moment to redefine the genre is really special. "
For some actors, who had never been a fan of westerns before, this is the vision of Samuel that convinced them to join the project - including the portrayal of women in the film. "The character agency is important " said King, who plays Trudy Smith.
"[The existence of woman] n isn't based on any man, child, or parent, or a story that must relate them to anything, other than who they are. And having three women who are so different and so secure and still have those layers, without being one-dimensional, was exciting to see. It 's so special that a man writes it down. "
The coronavirus pandemic has played an important role in the thinking of the actors and the team. Majors, which rose to prominence following his role in the HBO series Lovecraft Country , said Covid put everyone "in the same bucket". "When there is no enemy, we have a way to separate. I grew up a Methodist, they're Baptists down the street… It's Rufus Buck and Nat Love's game. It is by telling stories, and discovering what brings us together, that we overcome it. "
Elba said his performance "would be different if we hadn 't been through Covid, he changed me and made me mature. We thought the world was going die. But we got back up. I was healthy and fine. It really gave me a life-changing perspective. "
The Luther star was one of the first public figures to report having Covid in March 2020, and he has already spoken about the "traumatic " impact on his mental health.
The Harder They Fall hits theaters October 22, and hits Netflix two weeks later. Samuels said they went with the streaming platform because they wanted everyone to experience it at the same time. James Lassiter, who co-produced the film with Jay-Z, said: “If we're going to tell a storyire like this with this casting, the goal is to allow as many people in the world to have access to it. When you have a theatrical release, there's a built-in bias - some people won't want to see an all-black cast. "
The Harder They Fall is one of 21 premieres at the London Film Festival this year. The festival will screen 159 feature films, intentionally down from the 220 and more from previous years.
They include The Lost Daughter , which is the repertoire of Maggie Gyllenhaal debut and an adaptation of the novel by Elena Ferrante, The Souvenir: Part II by Joanna Hogg , Eva Husson 's Mother's Sunday , and Jane Campion's 1920s western The Power of the Dog , which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a ruthless Montana cattle rancher.