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The Search for Robert Johnson

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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(Oct 31, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Documentary explores the life and music of legendary and influential blues musician Robert Johnson through the small towns of the Mississippi Delta.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Legacy
  • DVD Release Date: October 31, 2000
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000050IKX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,838 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Search for Robert Johnson" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Did Robert Johnson really sell his soul to old Scratch at the crossroads? John Hammond, Jr. explores the life and times of this legendary bluesman. Hammond, a fine blues musician himself, travels through the small towns of the Mississippi Delta and interviews several of Robert Johnson's contemporaries and acquaintances, including Johnny Shines. Hammond even tracks down a woman who claims to have been Johnson's wife. Most of the interviewees are in the later years, giving the documentary a living history feel. The documentary is filled with Johnson's music, much of it performed by Hammond, in Delta settings. It is quite stirring to see Hammond playing Crossroads at the crossroads. If you are a fan of the Delta blues, this is a must have film.
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Format: VHS Tape
If you are a fan of the blues you MUST have this tape, no question about that.
One thing I like about this film is that it is as authentic as original. The is a marked difference in the interview segments when comparing this film with Cant You Hear The Wind Howl. In this film John Hammond Jr is interviewing the woman Robert Johnson cries out for, Annie Mae... in this film when JH Jr plays the song to her she has an expression that she hears a voice from the grave and is visibly affected by the music. In the other film she is inviewed but appearing more relaxed and prepared for discussing Robert Johnson. The corner dueling scene between John Hammond and Johnny Shines is excellent, its as close to the real thing as I will probably see.
This is a most excellent documentary, I hope it is able to find its way to DVD, for blues fans it is a must have documentary.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This DVD offers a wealth of information about the life of Robert Johnson. We meet a girlfriend of Robert Johnson, who claims she knows where his actual burial ground is, and another girlfriend who had a song written about her by Robert (and who hears it for the first time on the DVD). A man is interviewed who claims to be Robert Johnson's son, along with a birth certificate showing that in fact this may be the case. Johnny Shines talks about how they would play the game of "cutting heads" in Helena, with Robert stealing away the audience every time. We get the insight that the person who poisoned Robert Johnson's drink admitted as such to one interviewer, after first presenting an alibi for a question which was never asked. We are also presented with three possible grave sites of Robert Johnson, though none of them can proven to be incontrovertible as such. In short, there is a lot of good information on this DVD about the enigmatic bluesman known as Robert Johnson (and pseudonyms in various other places). This DVD is clearly a window into the past which will slowly disappear as the years go on......Hammond does us all a great service by documenting Robert Johnson's life and that of his contemporaries.

The one complaint I would have is that at times Hammond (an excellent blues singer in his own right) himself is singing RJ's songs, and at the bottom of the screen it will have the name of Robert Johnson along with the songs title. This may leave those with little knowledge of the blues to conclude it is actually Robert Johnson who is singing, when in fact it is not.
Read more ›
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Format: DVD
I purchased this video about a month back and have watched it at least 6 times. I guess the reason that I like it so much is not only my fascination with Robert Johnson but also the connection that I have to the places in it. I was born in Helena Arkansas (mentioned many times during and has it's own segment) and I have also visited all three alleged gravesites of Mr. Johnson. When you travel through the Delta as Mr. Hammond has done...you start to understand a little more about the music and where it came from. This documentary captures a lot of the essence of the Delta but you must visit it yourself to get the true feeling of how life must have been for the Blues Musicians of the Delta in the early 20th Century. The interviews here are candid, honest, and real. Watching this only make you want to look these people up yourself. Watch this video and try to inherit some appreciation for the heart and soul that went into the music that so many take for granted. Then...if you dare...take your own pilgrimage down to "The Crossroads" and see for yourself what all of this is about.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm a long-time owner of the "other" Robert Johnson DVD, Can't You Hear The Wind Howl." Obviously, I was wondering if there was going to be much duplication of material between that and the "Search For" DVD when I finally decided to buy the latter. I wasn't disappointed. While "Can't You Hear..." is in itself a fine piece of work, this DVD touches on some details of Robert Johnson's life not covered in "Can't You Hear...". John Hammond's interviews with Mack McCormick and the apparent son of Robert Johnson are particularly fascinating highlights of this film. As a result, I recommend all R.J. fans owning both DVD's--they complement each other well. As for John Hammond's intermittent performances of Johnson's songs, I thoroughly enjoyed them. The only corny part of the movie is when Hammond and Johnny Shines pretend to "cut heads" on the street--not too authentic, obviously, but I guess they were just trying to illustrate the concept. Well worth the price--buy this!!
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