‘The Harder They Fall’: Here’s How Netflix Recreated the West

by Jonathan Howard
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Right now, it seems that Netflix is leaning hard into the Western movie genre. Their latest The Harder They Fall is a great example. A lot of work went into making the film and that is evident by the success it has had.

Now, almost two weeks after the premiere of the film on the streaming platform, we are taking a closer look at the making of the movie. Getting those backdrops and settings just right matters a lot. Western films work off of real stunts and real settings almost with their own personalities. Jaymes Samuel wanted to have “a really strong identity for each of the different towns.”

When it came to building the town of Redwood City, the production started at Cerro Pelon Ranch. Samuel wanted the town to be colorful but fit into a Western landscape. He didn’t want dusty and sad looking. So the city is an original piece of art, really with great, full tones. Meanwhile, Maysville, the all-white town both demographically and architecturally, was brought to life on another ranch. Each town got its own identity and care when they were developed.

The camera work went into making those towns come alive just as much as the set building did. The DP on the crew talked about those techniques. “We forced ourselves to stay on the dolly and to come up with really interesting moves, using modern tools like a cablecam or all sorts of other interesting lenses. We were trying to figure out how to do something and make it look really new and fresh – but also pay tribute to the genre.”

The Harder They Fall has colorful settings and characters. Stars like Idris Elba, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, and more play the real-life cowboys and outlaws of history.

‘The Harder They Fall’ Real-Life Inspirations

This film is so fun and unique because of the history that it taps into. While the story is fictional, the characters are based on actual historical figures. There are some that folks have heard of before, and others that have not been given their due. However, The Harder They Fall brings these characters to life once again on screen.

Star Jonathan Majors plays Nat Love. He is one of the most famous Black cowboys to ever live. Like most of the figures in the movie, he was born into slavery before making a name for himself in the Wild West. He goes up against Rufus Black, played by Elba, setting the stage for a good vs bad showdown.

One of the most interesting characters has to be Stagecoach Mary. A woman with enough rifle skills to make a living protecting stagecoaches and tough enough to handle about anything that comes her way. Zazie Beetz portrays Mary in The Harder They Fall. This film has about everything you could ask for in a Western.

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