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Edna Mae Harris,
Robert Earl Jones
In the rural south of the United States, a godly young woman is accidently wounded by her unchurched husband. She succumbs to the injuries, whereupon a good angel bids her to journey with him to the Crossroads of Life. Before she can travel far, the devil lures her with the temptations of juke joints and the city. Can she regain the straight and narrow before it's too late? And what is to become of those she left behind? Written by
Thomas McWilliams <email@example.com>
The jury that selects each year the National Film Registry is unpredictable: films as "The Blood of Jesus" merit to be rescued, for its anthropological value and for being a forerunner in the evolution of African-American cinema and filmmakers, but I have seen quite a few whose inclusion could only be justified by provincialism, as "Road to Morocco", "Lassie Come Home" and "Knute Rockne All American". In the religion fable "The Blood of Jesus", inspired by a poem by Langston Hughes and set within a black community in the South, a Baptist sister dies when she is accidentally shot by the shotgun of her atheist husband. She is then guided by an angel and tempted by the Devil in her post-mortem trip to Heaven, and goes off course into a couple of bars in the city, where she gets into trouble. It is true that the actors are amateurs, that the extras look directly to camera, and the dramaturgy is elementary. It is also true that the special effects and decors are poor, but it is clear that the film was chosen because it captured on film a few traits and manifestations of Americans of African descent, in which there is a way to do and say that is both spontaneous and naive, beyond the interference of camera, lights and technicians. The baptism in the river, the dance in the city bar, the gospel hymns sung by the choir in the dying woman's room, the costumes of the angel and the Devil (out of a costume party for children), and the Devil himself playing the piano with a band, compensate and amuse (sometimes unintentionally) for a pious tale, full of praises to the "All Mighty Lord", with an African-American sister that has to choose between the road to Heaven and the road to Zion (!), and even including the literal blood of Jesus to set her free.
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