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Can't You Hear the Wind Howl [Import]

Danny Glover , Eric Clapton , Peter Meyer    Unrated   DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 27.49
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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

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't You Hear the Wind Howl? Jan. 7 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is another example of Black History that few people know about. The music is raw because mixing didn't exist in those days. But it is not just about the music. The message here is if a black man can survive back then without advertising, agents and the like and be known as one of the greatest artists of all times; What excuse does most young black men have like him today?
Example: This man played and danced on the back roads of Arkansas to earn money to buy a guitar that was lost in a fire. He became so popular for Sunday afternoon drivers even the police had a hard time directing traffic. How many black americans had cars then? Then we know who loved his music too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I heard the wind howl! Jan. 4 2003
This video is easily a 5-star two-thumbs up production -- Professionally done, excellent real footage, reasonable re-enactments, lots of photos, interviews, and music.
Like most who watch this video I bought the 2 CD Robert Johnson set and read the in-depth booklet that comes with the CDs. The booklet is good, and I'm a good reader, but my retention was not that high and I much prefer this DVD as a medium to the booklet. The DVD is fascinating from so many perspectives: a good biography, a glimpse back at early 20th century culture, and as an attempt to understand the signifigance of this musician.
For people who love documentaries, biographies, or music...highly recommended.
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I would reccomend this film to any Robert Johnson fan as well as to anyone just getting into the blues who wants to know where its really at. It includes some great interviews with Johnny Shines, Robert jr Lockwood and others who knew Robert. Its worth it just to hear Lockwood play an unrecorded song of R.J.'s! The parts where Keb' Mo' re-enacts segments from R.J.'s life are well done and effectively illustrate what life would have been like back then for a traveling bluesman. My only criticism would be that there are few extra DVD features,however, that doesn't stop me watching this film again and again! A very informative insight into the life of one of the greatest Delta bluesmen.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A TV Movie May 4 2001
By Demoley
This was originally done for the Discovery Channel. Part of the reason it's lacking certain things is the limitations for commercial interuption on the air. I felt it could have plunged a little deeper, but what I really appreciated were Robert Johnson's contemporaries and friends remininsing. Being that there's very little material around on the historic Robert Johnson it's these sorts of interviews that are going to preserve the biographical aspects on a man whose life and image are just as fascinating as his music. Be forewarned, you'll want it to be longer.
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1.0 out of 5 stars disappointed April 27 2000
By ken
Format:VHS Tape
I was very disappointed in this video, Keb-Mo was good, but there was very little of him playing, actually there was very little playing by anyone. The interviews were fine, but you find yourself waiting for the music to start, and when it did, it didn't last.It is alright, not great by any means, I would be hard pressed to buy it for more than a couple dollars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Can't You Hear The Wind Howl? Jan. 18 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This was not just a film about the life of Robert Johnson, but a look at the time and place that he lived in and what influenced him as a musician and a man. I felt a better understanding of Robert Johnson, not just the liner notes I've read in the past about the meaning of the songs, or style of guitar he played. This film put me in the Delta when RJ was growing up and in Texas when he was recording the records.
Keb Mo' was beautifully understated in the reenactments. In fact since he's lip syncing, and the lighting was so dramatic and mysterious, at moments I thought I was seeing the lost footage of Robert Johnson.
The interviews were enlightening and personal. Johnny Shines had me in tears one moment and laughing the next. What a pleasure for the world to find out the relationship Johnnny and Robert had. Any fan of the Blues or Rock N' Roll should see this film.
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