This ambitious mixture of dramatic reconstruction with traditional documentary affords excellent insight into legendary bluesman Robert Johnson's life, the enduring power of his music, and the myth which surrounds him. Can't You Hear The Wind Howl
transcends its genre of "docudrama," providing the well-researched information we'd expect from a conventional documentary with the dramatic impact we could hope for from a Hollywood film.
Contemporary bluesman Keb' Mo' (Kevin Moore) plays Johnson, and Danny Glover narrates, but the real star is Robert Johnson's music. The film's strength is its power of suggestion; we never see the Johnson character up close, never hear him talk. As if in a dream, he flits in and out of scenes, whether courting his girlfriend or stirring a juke joint to mayhem. But you'd be hard put picking him out of a police lineup. We never see him such that we can know him, which is an accurate representation of the elusive musician, according to the interview footage with Johnson's proteges and peers--among them Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood Jr., and Honeyboy Edwards. Keb' Mo', who has included Robert Johnson songs on each of his three CDs, says that portraying Johnson had a lasting effect. "It's an internal thing," says Mo'. "In playing him, you pull in some of the spirit. The spirit of a juke joint, the spirit of the south at that time." This film falls nicely between an homage and an explanation. --Sam Sutherland