Netflix, intentionally or not, has become the place to find all manner of music documentaries and videos.
One of the newest and arguably most interesting of the streaming service’s music-related films is “Devil at the Crossroads.” As its title suggests, the documentary seeks to shed light on the blues and more specifically Robert Johnson and what he did or didn’t do at the crossroads, and why.
The goals are ambitious for a film with a running time of only 48 minutes. That short span of time will leave Johnson fans and music history fans wanting more.
The film makes good use of sources such as Johnson’s grandson and a cadre of musicians who have been touched by Johnson’s work as sources. Hearing Johnson’s grandson sing the blues legend’s songs is both eerie and touching.
Robert Johnson beyond the crossroads
Johnson’s myth persists because he died young, only two photographs of him exist and he is credited with creating so much of the sound associated with rock ‘n’ roll. His legend extends beyond the blues and into other genres. Even his manner of death was up for debate among some people. But the music- – his voice, his arguably supernatural guitar-playing, all add up to reasons why Johnson should never be forgotten.
“Devil at the Crossroads”: Robert Johnson
The film packs in a lot despite its brevity. In some ways, it is as though the film is imitating Johnson’s life.
In addition to the story about American music, audiences also get a history lesson and learn a little about what it’s like to live in the American South during Johnson’s lifetime.
The film is ambitious and authentically interesting. It is a great film for people who think they have heard everything there is to know about the blues, Johnson and related matters.
With “Devil at the Crossroads,” Netflix proves that their representatives have an idea about kind of programming is relevant to a diverse and knowledgeable audience. The only downside of the film is that it could have been longer.