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The Land Where the Blues Began (1979)

Alan Lomax, a crucial figure in preserving the folk blues and bringing it to a national audience, produced this film in 1979, returning to the Mississippi Delta region where he had recorded many of its blues greats over the past several decades. The entire film and an accompanying transcript are available online.

Blues Story (2003) DVD

This PBS documentary provides a solid introduction, making good use of vintage archival footage and extensive interviews with contemporary blues luminaries.

The Blues: A Musical Journey (2003)

Acclaimed film director Martin Scorsese presides over this series of seven films approaching the subject of the blues from various angles. The Mike Figgis installment Red, White, and Blues (focusing on the British blues revival) and the one directed by Scorsese himself, Feel Like Going Home, are probably the standouts in this somewhat uneven, Delta-centric epic tribute.

Crossroads (1986)

This film, loosely based on the legend of Robert Johnson's deal with the Devil, is remarkable for two things: First, it fed the growing Johnson mania that peaked in 1990 with the release of his complete recordings by Columbia, and second, it has a fantastic soundtrack by the versatile Ry Cooder.

Devil Got My Woman (1996)

Available through the invaluable Rounder Records, Devil Got My Woman is Alan Lomax's attempt to recreate the Southern juke joint in the heyday of the blues with the blues stars that appeared at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival. Blues titans of the '30s meet the best of the '50s in the 1960s in a bar that doesn't really exist: Truly one of a kind with great performances.

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