Black westerns are making their long-awaited return with the upcoming release of Netflix’s The Harder They Fall, the New York Times reports.
Directed by Jeymes Samuel, the film chronicles a bloody feud between two warring gangs in a town that is not big enough for two rival outlaws. It pays homage to classic Westerns around characters "who shoot first and ask questions later," especially when loved ones are involved. With a star-studded cast including Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, and Regina King, this western-thriller depicts the often-forgotten legacy of Black cowboys.
According to the film's official synopsis, when outlaw Nat Love (Majors) gets word that his arch-enemy Rufus Buck (Elba) is being released from prison, he gathers up his crew to discover Buck's whereabouts and to serve him some cold-hearted revenge. Those riding in his caravan are his ex-lover Stagecoach Mary (Beetz), his hot-tempered main man Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi), and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth (R.J. Cyler), who was once his adversary. Love's enemy Buck has a serious crew of his own, including "Treacherous" Trudy Smith (King) and Cherokee Bill (Stanfield).
While the film is unapologetically a Black western, race is not central to the plot like previous films in the genre. The film seeks to recover and then update Black westerns for a new era.
“This is a western about Black people doing their own thing in their own space,” Samuel explained. “It’s a western for us. We have been ignored from the history of the Old West and the cinematic presentation of what the Old West was.”
“It’s a film about a group of people, and, by default, these people are Black,” he continued. “But their skin color has nothing to do with the story. Which is what we’ve been waiting for, right?”
The Harder They Fall premieres on Netflix on October 6th.